Prostate Cancer’s Hidden Side Effect

When a list of possible prostate cancer side effects from surgery or other treatments are read off by oncologists rarely do they mention one that leaves most men to regret their choice of treatment: shrinkage.

However, a substantial percentage of patients who undergo the procedure to remove the prostate gland or undergo hormone therapy combined with treatment by radiation have said they experience a decrease in the size of their penis following treatment. That side effect can create problems with their quality of life and relationships, a new study found.

Just radiation treatments do not cause a reduction in the size of the patient’s penis, according to the new study. Researchers examined different surveys filled out by over 948 men who had recently been treated for prostate cancer. The researchers found that close to 3% of the men complained that their penis size had reduced following their treatment.

However, one of the co-authors of the study called that a significant understatement since men often are uncomfortable discussing that particular side effect with doctors and usually doctors do not ask their patients about it.

Men that reported their penis had become smaller were three times more apt to regret their choice of treatment than the men who did not complain. In studies previously conducted, researchers measured the size of the penis following surgery and the average loss due to surgery was just one centimeter.

Close to 70% of the men saw some reduction in size, but a number of them did not notice the change especially if it were just millimeters. It is still uncertain as to why the size of the penis is reduced following the treatment.

 

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