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Advanced Prostate Cancer Treatment: Side Effects

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Other ED treatments include:

  • Penile injectable medications such as alprostadil
  • Vacuum erection device (uses suction to help achieve an erection and an elastic ring to help maintain it)
  • Penile implant

Infertility. This may happen after treatments for prostate cancer, such as:

  • Surgical removal of the prostate
  • Radiation of the pelvis
  • Chemotherapy

Because infertility may be permanent, patients who might wish to father children in the future should talk to their doctor before treatment about sperm banking to preserve their sperm for possible later use.

Hormonal changes. These can happen during hormone treatments, which lower testosterone levels. As with every treatment, the benefits must be weighed against the risks of cancer growth and progression.

The good news is that most hormonal changes are reversible. So if you don't like how it makes you feel, you can talk to your doctor about stopping or changing the treatment.

Many men experience ED and/or lose interest in sex. They also may:

  • Gain weight
  • Grow breasts
  • Become depressed
  • Lose muscle mass
  • Develop weaker bones
  • Have hot flashes

Men with low testosterone levels (also called "low T") have higher rates of:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart attack
  • High blood pressure

Many of the symptoms of low T can be controlled with the help of certain medications and lifestyle changes. Dietary supplements, such as calcium and vitamin D, along with exercise and weight training, can help boost bone strength.

Fatigue. This frequently results from the cancer itself or from treatments such as:

  • Radiation
  • Hormone therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Vaccine treatment

If you are fatigued, you may find that you lack energy for everyday activities, such as work, hobbies, and getting together with friends. Here are a few strategies that can help:

  • Exercise every day.
  • Eat a nutritious diet and stay hydrated.
  • Schedule rest periods.
  • Focus on the most important tasks, and ask for help.

If you have treatment-related anemia (low blood counts), which can cause fatigue, talk to your doctor. Nutritional supplements, drugs, or blood transfusions often help.

Nausea and vomiting. This often happens during chemotherapy. Both may also be side effects of vaccine therapy. The following tips may help ease discomfort:

  • Eat a light meal on treatment days.
  • Stick to foods and drinks that are easy on the stomach.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothes.
  • Talk to your doctor about drugs you can take before your treatment to help prevent and control nausea and vomiting. If one doesn't work, there are others you can try.
  • Hypnosis, biofeedback, and guided imagery may also help.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Sheldon Marks, MD on March 26, 2013
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