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Cancer treatments

Doctors don't warn men about penis-shrinking cancer treatments

Friday, January 04, 2013 by: Sherry Baker, Health Sciences Editor
Tags: cancer treatments, penis, shrinkage

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(NaturalNews) Imagine you are a man diagnosed with prostate cancer and, like countless other patients, you receive certain treatments. When you are through with the therapy, you notice a physical change that your doctor never mentioned could happen. Your penis seems to be decidedly smaller. In fact, it's so much smaller that the change in size interferes with your intimate relationships.

However, a shrinking penis would certainly be a side effect doctors would have mentioned before starting prostate cancer treatment, right? So this perception of a smaller penis must simply be the result of a psychological or emotional problem, correct? Wrong.

Although it may sound almost unbelievable, according to a study by researchers from Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center just published in the journal Urology, the potential side effect of a smaller penis from prostate cancer treatments is well-known among physicians and surgeons --however, they don't tell their patients. "But it's almost never discussed with patients, so it can be very upsetting to some men when it occurs," Paul Nguyen, MD, a radiation oncologist who headed the research, said in a media statement.

The new study involved 948 men treated for prostate cancer. The research team found that reports of smaller penises were more common in the men who were treated with radical prostatectomy (surgical removal of the prostate) or male hormone-blocking drugs combined with radiation therapy. No men reported shorter penises after radiation therapy alone.

Although the percentages of men reporting smaller penises after treatment were not large (about 4 percent for those treated with surgery and close to 3 percent for radiotherapy plus androgen deprivation therapy, known as ADT), many of those affected were often so upset by this side effect that they regretted ever having the cancer treatments. This is the first study to link men's perceptions of a reduction in penis size to lowered life satisfaction, problems in their emotional relationships, and misgivings about the specific form of prostate cancer treatment they were given.

In an editorial comment in the Urology journal about the new study, Luc Cormier, MD, PhD, of Dijon University Hospital in France said the new research "is really of interest because of the number of patients and that it included other treatment methods in addition to radical prostatectomy." The report concludes that physicians should discuss the possibility of smaller penises as a potential treatment side effect so patients they can make more-informed treatment choices.

"Patients can deal with almost any side effects if they have some inkling ahead of time that they may happen," Dr. Nguyen said in the press statement. "Prostate cancer is one of the few cancers where patients have a choice of therapies, and because of the range of possible side effects, it can be a tough choice. This study says that when penile shortening does occur, it really does affect patients and their quality of life. It's something we should be discussing up front so that it will help reduce treatment regrets."

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About the author:
Sherry Baker is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Health, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Yoga Journal, Optometry, Atlanta, Arthritis Today, Natural Healing Newsletter, OMNI, UCLA''''s "Healthy Years" newsletter, Mount Sinai School of Medicine''''s "Focus on Health Aging" newsletter, the Cleveland Clinic''''s "Men''''s Health Advisor" newsletter and many others.

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