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New Test Predicts Risk for Impotence After Prostate Cancer Therapy
Date:9/21/2011

ctile dysfunction (ED), incontinence, bowel dysfunction and other problems. In this study, the researchers focused on erectile dysfunction because among quality of life outcomes, loss of "sexual function in previously potent men" is the most common side effect, they noted, and is closely related to how men feel about the treatment outcome.

So, any test that might predict the likelihood of post-treatment ED in particular patients would be valuable. To help devise such a test, between 1995 and 2007 Sanda's team tried to see if they could accurately predict treatment-linked ED risk via pre-treatment questionnaires. They handed out the questionnaires to more than 1,200 newly diagnosed men.

The surveys noted patient age, prostate cancer severity, PSA levels, body mass index, race and ethnicity, current sexual function, and prior history of ED or ED treatment.

Ultimately, all the patients went on to undergo some form of therapy, and all were tracked for two years following treatment.

According to the researchers, a man's risk of erectile dysfunction varied depending on the type of treatment given. For example, for men with no ED issues before treatment, surgical removal of the prostate was associated with new-onset ED in about 60 percent of cases within 2 years of therapy. Just over 40 percent of men without prior ED experienced the problem following external radiation, the study found, and the figure dropped to below 40 percent for those who underwent brachytherapy [radioactive "seeds" embedded within the prostate].

A subsequent analysis of questionnaire responses revealed that certain patient characteristics, such as high PSA levels, were also associated with higher impotence risk.

Other key pre-treatment variables included age, race, BMI, and sexual history. These factors were then scored alongside some particulars of treatment itself (such as the use of nerve-sparing surgical approaches and/or hormone therapy-enhanced radiation)
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