Prostate Cancer Treatment Side Effects

Prostate cancer treatment side effects can vary greatly from little to none, or create lifetime issues. Studying what treatments cause what side effects should be part of your treatment decision. Consenting to treatment means you understand the nature of the treatment, risks, benefits and alternatives.

Treatment or the combination of treatments in advanced cases can lead to a wide range of side effects. Prostate cancer treatment side effects include erectile dysfunction, incontinence, urinary issues, diarrhea, hot flashes, weight gain, loss of muscle, vomiting and hair loss.There are short term prostate cancer treatment side effects that subside over time, as well as long term side effects that can last for years.

What are the Prostate Cancer Treatment Side Effects of a Prostatectomy?

The primary prostate cancer treatment side effects after a radical prostatectomy are incontinence and erectile dysfunction. These side effects are a product of the location of the prostate and the type of surgery performed. The prostate gland lies deep within the pelvis behind the pubic bone and in front of the rectum. The urinary bladder lies just above the prostate, the urinary sphincter control muscle is located just below it, and the erectile nerves lie just outside the prostate on either side. A patient’s age and overall health also influence the potential risks of radical prostatectomy just as it does with any major operation. Such risks include cardiac or pulmonary events, infections, blood clots, or injuries to structures around the prostate.

SHORT TERM

Following surgery, all men will have some urinary leakage. A good amount of bladder control is often regained within 12 weeks and continues to improve over 12 months. Multiple studies have shown that there is often a several month interval before a patient recovers normal erections, even with bilateral nerve-sparing surgery. Advantages to the Robot Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy (RALP) technique are a reduced risk of intra-operative bleeding and a shortened hospital stay.

LONG TERM

Less than five percent of patients have severe incontinence which is persistent. Mild incontinence when coughing, laughing or sneezing may persist in up to an additional 5 percent of patients. With Robot Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy  (RALP), approximately 90% have good urinary control and require no urinary leak protection after a period of twelve months. Men who have “normal” pre-operative sexual function have a 72% likelihood of having erections that are adequate for penetration following a bilateral nerve-sparing operation. A quarter of these patients require PDE-5 inhibitors in order to reach their maximal level of potency. If a unilateral nerve-sparing procedure is performed, 38% of men will have erections that are adequate for sexual activity. Less than 1 in 10 men who undergo a non-nerve sparing procedure will have erections adequate for intercourse after surgery. In patients that are unable to obtain satisfactory erections after surgery, additional procedures such as penile implants are available to help restore erections and sexual function.

What are the Prostate Cancer Treatment Side Effects from Radiation?

Prostate cancer treatment side effects of radiation therapy can be divided into early (occurring during or shortly after treatment) and late (occurring months or years after treatment) effects. These effects are related to the organs around the prostate. The bladder and rectum sit just above and just behind the prostate, respectively.

External Beam Radiation

SHORT TERM

Typical early effects include bladder and rectal irritative symptoms such as frequency and urgency. Patients may also notice a weaker urinary stream, getting up more often to urinate at night (nocturia), and loose or irregular bowel movements. These effects may be noticed about half way through the course of treatment and slowly increase in intensity until the end of treatment. They usually resolve within a few weeks after completion of treatment.

LONG TERM

Late effects are much less common than early effects, but can be more serious and long lasting. Urinary stricture or incontinence are rare, but can occur particularly in patients who have significant urinary problems prior to treatment. Loss of potency (ability to have an erection) can occur and is directly related to the patient’s age and erectile function prior to treatment. Medications known as PDE-5 inhibitors are often helpful in improving this problem. Rectal inflammation, called proctitis, can occur, but infrequently becomes serious enough to require treatment.

Prostate Seed Brachytherapy or High Dose Rate Radiation

SHORT TERM

Immediately after the procedure, patients may have some perineal discomfort and even some bruising for a few days. Patients often experience increased urinary frequency, urgency, weak stream and nighttime urination. These effects are at their greatest for 4-6 weeks after brachytherapy and will dissipate over the following 3-6 months.

LONG TERM

Late effects are much less common than early effects, but can be more serious and long lasting. Urinary stricture or incontinence are rare, but can occur particularly in patients who have significant urinary problems prior to treatment. Loss of potency (ability to have an erection) can occur and is directly related to the patient’s age and erectile function prior to treatment. Rectal inflammation, called proctitis, can occur, but infrequently becomes serious enough to require treatment.

R. Alex Hsi, MD, Radiation Oncologist describes a breakthrough method to reduce side effects when prostate cancer is treated with radiation.

What Are the Treatment Side Effects After CRYO, HIFU, CHEMO, and Hormone Therapy?

Cryotherapy

SIDE EFFECTS

Compared to surgery or radiation therapy, less data is available regarding the long- term (greater than 10 year) side effects and effectiveness of cryotherapy. As a result, it is common for patients to pursue this modality only if they are not good candidates for radiation therapy or surgery.

HIFU

SIDE EFFECTS

HIFU or High Intensity Focus Ultrasound procedure may result in impotence, incontinence, urinary frequency and burning, or rectal wall injury.

Chemotherapy

SIDE EFFECTS

Chemotherapy can cause anemia, increased risk of infection and easy bruising (from low red cells, white cells and platelets, respectively), hair loss, mouth sores, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

ADT or Hormone Therapy

SIDE EFFECTS

Hormone therapy is also called androgen deprivation therapy (ADT).  This treatment can cause hot flashes, reduced sexual desire, impotence, weight gain, breast enlargement, loss of muscle, fatigue, osteoporosis, or anemia.

Edward Weber, M.D. Medical Oncologist, describes the side effects of cardiac complications when receiving Androgen Deprivation Therapy, ADT, also known as Hormone Therapy, for treatment of Prostate Cancer. ADT is used to reduce the production of testosterone needed for the growth of prostate cancer cells. But ADT can have cardiac complications, especially on men with a history of heart disease.

Prostate Cancer Free

Thirty Six Prostate Cancer Experts have analyzed the treatment outcomes of over 100,000 patients across the globe, following these patients for up to 15 years. The success of a treatment is determined by monitoring PSA for years after treatment. This data is presented to you, so you can see which treatments leave patients prostate cancer free. Watch this video to learn more.

  UNDERSTAND PROSTATE CANCER.

What is Prostate Cancer?

Do you have questions about Prostate Cancer? Do you know the Symptoms? The Causes? Has someone you know expressed concern that they might have Prostate Cancer?

Diagnosed with Prostate Cancer?

Recently diagnosed patients and families should do all they can to learn about the tests and treatment options in the fight against prostate cancer.

Treating Prostate Cancer.

Most patients have options when it comes to the treatment of prostate cancer. Learn about your prostate cancer treatment options.

Explore Common Prostate Cancer Terms

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