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

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The researchers say that the test was 77 to 90 percent accurate in predicting a man's risk for developing treatment-related ED, depending on the type of treatment received. It could also assess an individual's likelihood for developing ED along a continuum, ranging from as little as 10 percent risk up to a high of 70 percent.

"Basically, how patients are doing at baseline before treatment is the issue, in terms of ED risk," noted Sanda. "And this sort of one-page questionnaire can get at that in a clinical setting in less than five minutes, and [be] scored in a minute or two. So I would say that this is a move forward, a step in the right direction, with personalizing medicine."

Dr. Michael J. Barry is medical director at the John D. Stoeckle Center, part of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and the author of an accompanying journal editorial. He said that the key issue here is "making sure that patients are fully informed of their health care choices".

"This is a great study, because it points towards a way to help people understand the trade-offs that are important when making decisions about their treatment," he said.

"Now this is only focusing on one, although common, piece of the equation," cautioned Barry, who is also president of the Boston-based Foundation for Informed Medical Decision-Making. "But, it can really help people weigh the potential benefits of reducing the risk of dying from prostate cancer versus the price they might have to pay. And that is what informed consent is all about."

More information

There's more on prostate cancer treatment at the U.S. National Cancer Institute .

SOURCES: Martin G. Sanda, M.D., director, prostate center, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and associate professor, urology, Harvard Medical School; Michael J. Barry, M.D., medical director, John D. Sto
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