Side effects of prostate cancer treatments
The over-treatment of prostate cancer
Prostate cancer is one of the most over-treated cancers in the US–right up there next to breast cancer over-treatment. According to a recent Medscape Medical News article, the study published in the latest issue of Urology, treatments for prostate cancer can result in a little-mentioned adverse effect–a smaller penis.
A smaller penis is an adverse effect of prostate cancer treatment according to a study led by Paul Nguyen, MD, from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, where researchers found significantly more complaints of a shortened penis associated with surgery combined with radiotherapy plus androgen-deprivation therapy (ADT). The adverse effect of penile shortening is rarely mentioned by physicians, as they point out. “I would think that 10% or less of doctors who treat prostate cancer routinely discuss reduction in penis size as a possible side effect of therapy,” said Dr. Nguyen.
The authors suggest that denervation atrophy associated with erectile dysfunction and possibly fibrosis of the cavernous smooth muscle could be causes of shortened penis.
Other researchers have noted long-term inflammatory changes to the microvasculature, neural tissues, along with structural changes to the corporeal smooth muscle, resulting from radiation therapy. Reduced penile size was significantly associated with more treatment regret according to this study along with an increased loss of close emotional relationships.
That is not all you get with your unnecessary prostate cancer treatment. A smaller penis, wrecked sex life, anal leakage, urine dribble, greater chance of a more aggressive cancer, depression and regrets all bundled up with a bill for services for treatment of a cancer that likely wouldn’t have killed you in the first place.
Lost sexual function and incontinence from prostate treatment
Another negative impact noted in the Nguyen study was the loss of “overall enjoyment” in life.
- The American Cancer Society reports that after standard radical prostatectomy, up to 90% of men experience erectile dysfunction with patients reporting in with about 20% incontinence rates.
- With radiation treatments, erectile dysfunction happens slowly and is caused by damage to the blood vessels supplying the nerves responsible for erections. According to the American Cancer Society, erectile dysfunction rates equal that of the surgery after one year post-treatment. Incontinence rates for this procedure run up to 64%.
- When the prostate gland is frozen during cryosurgery, the nerve bundles controlling erections can often be permanently damaged. Erectile dysfunction rates following this surgery are 72% and incontinence rates are 73%.
- Hormone therapy brings erectile dysfunction within 2 to 4 weeks and is almost always paired with a decreased desire for sex. The male sex hormone testosterone is responsible for sex drive, or libido, as well the ability to achieve an erection. When hormone therapy stops testosterone production, there is a definite loss of interest in sexual activity.
The over-screening for prostate cancer
The inordinate push by medical officials for prostate screening has brought an extreme rise in prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment–without improving the outcomes in term of life-saving interventions. The fact is that up to 55% of men in their fifties and 64% of men in their seventies have prostate cancer diagnosed at autopsy. Less than 10% are detectable in a screening while alive. The main health threat of over-diagnosis is over-treatment of an indolent disease–one that wouldn’t kill you anyhow.
The American Urological Association (AUA) has also recently back-pedaled on its position for PSA testing going from ALL to NONE. Until recently, the AUA recommended an annual PSA test for all men over 40, but now they are recommending none at all – for anybody. The AUA’s new position is for men between 55 and 69 to “discuss the test” with their doctor, in hopes that they can bully or scare them into the test.
PSA tests are typically followed by aggressive treatment and yet the PSA test doesn’t distinguish between the harmless “common prostate cancer” and the rare life-threatening cancer.
Prostate cancer is a disease of inflammation
Prostate cancer is really not a disease but rather a symptom of something gone wrong in the body. Cancer is a symptom of inflammation caused by damage to a body organ or system that causes ongoing weakness and inflammation. Chronically inflamed organs (like the prostate) become targets of heavy metals, viruses, bacterium and fungus. Food sensitivities (like gluten sensitivity) compromise the intestines and cause leakage of food particles into the blood, causing inflammation all through the body.
The best way to fight the threat of prostate cancer lies in diet and lifestyle changes and by skipping the unnecessary screenings and messy procedures.
Sources for this article
Authored by Cancer Nutritionist Craig Stellpflug NDC, CNC, Dayspring Cancer Clinic Scottsdale, AZ
Copyright 2007 Craig Stellpflug© Permission is hereby granted to copy and distribute this article but only in its entirety