All conventional prostate cancer treatments harm quality of life

Saturday, October 02, 2010 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: prostate cancer, PSA, health news

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(NaturalNews) All major prostate cancer therapies reduce men's quality of life through increased urinary incontinence and hampered sexual function, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and published in the Journal of Urology.

Researchers followed 1,269 men who had been treated for early-stage prostate cancer and assessed their urinary continence, sexual function, energy levels, pain levels, emotional well-being and ability to perform daily tasks. The men were also questioned about each of these quality-of-life measures.

Sixty percent of study participants had been treated with radical prostatectomy, or complete removal of the prostate gland. Seventeen percent had been treated with brachytherapy, the implantation of radioactive "seeds" in the prostate gland. Twelve percent had undergone external radiation treatment, 6 percent had been treated with both forms of radiation therapy and 5 percent had been treated with hormone-blocking drugs.

The researchers found that in all surgery and radiation groups, symptoms of urinary incontinence worsened in the first year after treatment and then improved in the second year, but did not return to pre-treatment levels. Symptoms tended to be worse in patients who had undergone surgery.

In men who had been treated with hormone-blocking drugs, urinary incontinence tended to worsen gradually over the course of four years. The researchers speculated that the drugs might lead to a degeneration of the pelvic muscles.

All treatments led to a decrease in sexual function over the first year after treatment, with surgery once again leading to the greatest effect. Yet while surgical patients tended to undergo improvement in sexual symptoms during the second year after treatment, no such improvement was seen in patients who had undergone other therapies. Thus after the second year, sexual dysfunction was roughly similar in men of all treatment groups.

Because the majority of prostate cancers are slow growing and will never pose a threat to men's health, screening for the disease has become controversial in recent years. Doctors increasingly worry that large numbers of men are being subjected to severe side effects without good cause.

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