July 18, 2005 Men receiving radiation therapy to combat early-stage prostate cancer are still able to achieve an erection and face a low rate of incontinence one year following treatment, according to a new study published in the July 15, 2005 issue of the International Journal of Radiation Oncology*Biology*Physics, the official journal of ASTRO, the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology.
Researchers enrolled 98 men from 24 institutions and set out to gauge the health-related quality of life in patients receiving low-dose rate prostate brachytherapy, a form of internal radiation therapy in which tiny radioactive seeds are implanted directly into the prostate gland to battle the cancer.
Patients were given three separate health-related quality of life questionnaires a total of five times before, during and after undergoing radiation therapy to allow researchers to evaluate what effect their treatment was having on them. The two most important side effects studied were sexual and urinary function.
The study reports that one year after receiving treatment, 78 percent of the men were able to achieve an erection, both with and without assistance. However, nearly 50 percent of the men did experience some loss of sexual function, such as reduced desire, activity and satisfaction as well as fatigue.
Although the overall rate of incontinence was low at 1 percent, some men did have difficulty urinating at the one-year mark. Typically, incontinence increases at the beginning of treatment and is completely gone one year after treatment.
"This is the first multi-institutional study of its kind," said Steven J. Feigenberg, M.D., lead author of the study and a radiation oncologist at Fox Chance Cancer Center in Philadelphia. "This study has provided us with valuable data that will help radiation oncologists better address possible side effects patients may have after receiving seed implants for prostate cancer."
For more information on radiation therapy for prostate cancer, please visit http://www.astro.org/patient/treatment_information/ for a free brochure.
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