Four years ago, Santa gave me the worst Christmas present I'd ever received.
The day after the most joyous holiday of the year, my doctor called and
delivered the news that I had prostate cancer.
Because my dad had prostate cancer decades before, I had been going to a
urologist since I turned 40 to have a PSA [prostate-specific antigen test].
Recently, my PSA had shot up very high, to 29, and the following biopsy
confirmed that I had a highly aggressive tumor. At 50 years old, I faced the
When, if ever, is something going to be done for the
unfortunates like me who suffer from impotence and incontinence after prostate
surgery? If I had it to do over, you can bet your life I'd say no. Quality of
life is more important than quantity.
I agree, quality of life is absolutely important. Every
treatment has potential complications, but the number of complications [with
prostate surgery] is decreasing. We're seeing fewer and fewer people with these
There are a number of treatments for impotence. There's a
vacuum constriction device, injections of the drug alprostodil, an inflatable
penile prosthesis -- available treatments that are well accepted and
time-tested. There are also a number of drugs in the pipeline, which show
promise -- drugs that are longer-acting and quicker-acting than Viagra.
For incontinence, we can do collagen injections; insertion of
artificial urinary sphincters is also a possibility. Again, these are
time-tested and well accepted treatments. -- J. Brantley Thrasher, MD, chair
of urology at the University of Kansas in Kansas City.
I am a prostate cancer survivor. Based on what I now know, it
appears that I did not have the nerve-sparing type of surgery. After 22 months
I still don't have complete bladder control and no response to Viagra. Is it
possible for those nerves to be regenerated or repaired? My internist has me
taking vitamins C and E to help. Are they effective in this area?
It's very unlikely that you will have recovery of function
after 22 months. Most recoveries happen in the first year. Late regeneration of
nerves is possible but remote. And there's no way to do a correction. [See the
previous answer for options.] -- J. Brantley Thrasher, MD, chair of urology
at the University of Kansas in Kansas City.