If you are undergoing prostate cancer treatment, concern about erectile dysfunction (ED) is normal and expected. Prostate cancer itself will not lead to impotence; however, prostate cancer affects more than 180,000 men each year, and some survivors will develop ED as a result of their treatment. Fortunately, there are tactics to help avoid ED during treatment.
Most men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer will undergo one or more of the following treatments:
- Surgery to remove the prostate
- Radiation therapy
- Hormone therapy
Your doctor will prescribe a care plan designed specifically for you. In the process, it may leave you with some degree of ED. The severity of your ED depends on a number of factors such as the stage of your cancer, the success of the prostate removal surgery if it is the selected method of treatment, and your recovery.
How to Prevent ED During Treatment
As of today, there is not a guaranteed way to prevent erectile dysfunction during prostate cancer treatment, but the risk can be significantly reduced. In the instance of prostate cancer, preventing progression of the disease must be your primary goal.
The most important thing you can do when facing prostate cancer treatment is to talk to your doctor in advance about your concerns. This may open the door to advanced treatments that may prevent this common complication. For example, discuss the use of radioactive seed implants, known as brachytherapy, instead of traditional external beam radiation. Other options to consider include:
- Intensity-modulated radiotherapy
- 3-D conformal radiotherapy
In addition, ask about high-tech surgical advances that can spare the nerves that control erections like laparoscopic and robotic techniques if prostate removal is your selected treatment option. Your surgeon may also use a nerve-monitoring device during the surgery to help identify these delicate nerves (ProPep Surgical)
What Happens If You Get ED?
Your doctor may prescribe certain medications to treat your erectile dysfunction. Oral drug therapy using Cialis or Viagra may help. Studies show that over 70 percent of men who have nerve-sparing prostate surgery regain the ability to maintain erections with drug treatment. Around 60 percent of men who have radiation therapy respond positively to drug treatments as well.
If you have any questions about how to prevent ED during prostate cancer treatment, contact Dr. Scott Miller or call at (404) 705-5201.