Percentage is small, says study authors
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 01/14/2013 -- A minority percentage of men have made complaints about their shortened penis following prostate cancer treatment, according to research.
Within the study conducted by Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center in Boston, some men have complained that the change in their penis size interfered with intimate relationships, causing them to regret the choice of treatment.
The study was published in the January issue of Journal Urology, and is based on surveys completed by physicians of over 940 men that were treated for prostate cancer, and who have suffered a recurrence of the disease.
Complaints regarding the issue were more common among men treated with radical prostatectomy or men using hormone-blocking drugs that were combined with radiation therapy, says the study.
No men reported a perceived shortening of the penis following radiation therapy solely.
There were Twenty-five men who complained of smaller penises following treatment. That number was represented by 3.73% who understood surgery, 2.67% who used radiotherapy and androgen deprivation therapy, and 0% for those with radiotherapy alone.
The team that held the study, led by radiation oncologist Paul Nguyen, MD, and Arti Parekh (a medical student) stated that this study is the first study to link men's perception of penis size reduction to lowered life satisfaction.
Nguyen noted the potential side effect of a small penis was well-known among physicians and surgeons, but that "It's almost never discussed with patients, so it can be very upsetting to some men when it occurs," he added. "Patients can deal with almost any side effect if they have some inkling ahead of time that they may happen."
There was not direct measurements of penis size before or after treatment. Nor did patients' physicians ask about the side effect. The issue was noted by patients in conversations with their doctor. The authors thus suggest the problem is likely a bit more common than the report notes.
"Prostate cancer is one of the few cancers where patients have a choice of therapies, and because of the range of possible side effects, it can be a tough choice," said Nguyen. "This study says that when penile shortening does occur, it really does affect patients and their quality of life. It's something we should be discussing up front so that it will help reduce treatment regrets."
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