March 17, 2013
Cancer Group Discusses Link Between Prostate Cancer And Erectile Dysfunction
Men suffering from prostate cancer are four times more likely to experience erectile dysfunction (ED) than those without the condition — a phenomenon caused largely by the treatment process, according to the UK-based Macmillan Cancer Support charity.According to the Belfast Telegraph, the organization said there are currently about 160,000 men being treated for prostate cancer in the UK who are suffering from ED. As they went through surgery, radiotherapy and hormone treatments, it became difficult or even impossible for those men to maintain erections.
“In some there may be permanent nerve damage, meaning they cannot maintain an erection. In others the physical problem can be temporary while for some the treatment has led to a psychological barrier to sex,” BBC News added. Macmillan Cancer Support officials said two out of every three prostate cancer patients report an inability to get an erection as a result of their therapy.
“These figures highlight a major issue facing prostate cancer patients after treatment,” explained Professor Jane Maher, chief medical officer of the UK cancer charity. “The sheer volume of men affected shows the need for careful discussions before treatment.”
“Many can be helped through early intervention and better support for men living with or beyond prostate cancer,” she added. “Macmillan has worked closely with the NHS to develop a number of services to support cancer survivors after treatment. Some are already in place, but it is vital these services are implemented across the UK so men are not left isolated with this issue.”
Among the services the charity is pushing for are trained nurses specialized in dealing with ED-related issues, as well as an improved psychological support network and an increase in the availability of physiotherapists to prostate cancer patients, according to the BBC. In addition, Macmillan representatives are encouraging men to seek the counsel of their general practitioner if and when they experience these problems.
“For many men with prostate cancer there is a certain stigma attached to talking about erectile dysfunction,” Dr. Daria Bonanno, a consulting clinical psychologist funded by Macmillan, told BBC News. "Many may feel a sense of loss of masculinity and sadness around the inability to sustain an erection and will be reluctant to seek support. This can often cause them to emotionally isolate themselves from their partners and could make the issues worse.”