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Treatment Option Overview


Radical prostatectomy may also cause fecal incontinence, and the incidence may vary with surgical method.[59] In a national survey sample of 907 men who had undergone radical prostatectomy at least 1 year before the survey, 32% of the men who had undergone perineal (nerve-sparing) radical prostatectomy and 17% of the men who had undergone retropubic radical prostatectomy reported accidents of fecal leakage. Ten percent and 4% of the respondents reported moderate and large amounts of fecal leakage, respectively. Fewer than 15% of men with fecal incontinence had reported it to a physician or health care provider.

Radiation Therapy Complications

Definitive external-beam radiation therapy (EBRT) can result in acute cystitis, proctitis, and sometimes enteritis.[1,41,49,60,61,62] These conditions are generally reversible but may be chronic and rarely require surgical intervention. Potency, in the short term, is preserved with radiation therapy in most cases but may diminish over time.[62] A cross-sectional survey of prostate cancer patients who had been treated in a managed care setting by radical prostatectomy, radiation therapy, or watchful waiting showed substantial sexual and urinary dysfunction in the radiation therapy group.[50] (Refer to the PDQ summary on Sexuality and Reproductive Issues for more information.)

Morbidity may be reduced with the employment of sophisticated radiation therapy techniques-such as the use of linear accelerators-and careful simulation and treatment planning.[63] Radiation side effects of three-dimensional conformal versus conventional radiation therapy using similar doses (total dose of 60-64 Gy) have been compared in a randomized nonblinded study.[64][Level of evidence: 1iiC] No differences were observed in acute morbidity, and late side effects serious enough to require hospitalization were infrequent with both techniques; however, the cumulative incidence of mild or greater proctitis was lower in the conformal arm than in the standard therapy arm (37% vs. 56%; P = .004). Urinary symptoms were similar in the two groups as were local tumor control and OS rates at 5 years' follow-up.

Radiation therapy can be delivered after an extraperitoneal lymph node dissection without an increase in complications if careful attention is paid to radiation technique. The treatment field should not include the dissected pelvic nodes. Previous transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) increases the risk of stricture above that seen with radiation therapy alone, but if radiation therapy is delayed 4 to 6 weeks after the TURP, the risk of stricture can be minimized.[65,66,67] Pretreatment TURP to relieve obstructive symptoms has been associated with tumor dissemination; however, multivariate analysis in pathologically staged cases indicates that this is the result of a worse underlying prognosis of the cases that require TURP rather than the result of the procedure itself.[68]

A population-based survey of Medicare recipients who had received radiation therapy as primary treatment of prostate cancer (similar in design to the survey of Medicare patients who underwent radical prostatectomy,[45] described above) has been reported, showing substantial differences in posttreatment morbidity profiles between surgery and radiation therapy.[69] Although the men who had undergone radiation therapy were older at the time of initial therapy, they were less likely to report the need for pads or clamps to control urinary wetness (7% vs. more than 30%). A larger proportion of patients treated with radiation therapy before surgery reported the ability to have an erection sufficient for intercourse in the month before the survey (men <70 years, 33% who received radiation therapy vs. 11% who underwent surgery alone; men ?70 years, 27% who received radiation therapy vs. 12% who underwent surgery alone). Men receiving radiation therapy, however, were more likely to report problems with bowel function, especially frequent bowel movements (10% vs. 3%). As in the results of the surgical patient survey, about 24% of radiation patients reported additional subsequent treatment of known or suspected cancer persistence or recurrence within 3 years of primary therapy.


WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: May 16, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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