Despite supposed advances, radical prostatectomy is still causing significant erectile dysfunction and urinary problems in up to half of all patients, say US researchers.

The study team from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre, in Seattle, Washington, looked at 1291 men diagnosed with primary prostate cancer. The men all underwent radical prostatectomy within six months of diagnosis.

After 18 months of follow up, 8.4 per cent of the men were incontinent and 59.9 per cent were impotent. Men in the 60 plus age group were less likely to experience impotence than those aged less than 60 (15.3-21.7 per cent versus 39 per cent), but more likely to experience incontinence (13.9 per cent versus 0.7-3.6 per cent) than younger men. The researchers suggest that not enough men are told of these distressing side effects. Because of this, they are less able to make informed choices about alternatives (JAMA, 2000; 283: 354-60).

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What Doctors Don't Tell You Written by What Doctors Don't Tell You

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