April 2024

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Health Capsule

Comparing Side Effects of Prostate Cancer Treatments

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer for men in the United States. Luckily, most men with prostate cancer will still be alive 15 years after diagnosis.

Men with prostate cancer that hasn’t spread outside the gland have several treatment choices. These include surgery, radiation therapy, and active surveillance, where treatment is delayed until a cancer starts to grow.

Men live a similar length of time regardless of the chosen treatment. But it’s been unclear if there were significant differences in the long-term side effects of these treatments. Side effects can include bladder and bowel problems, and difficulty with sexual functioning.

To learn more, researchers followed 2,500 men for 10 years after prostate cancer treatment. As expected, survival rates were similar. But the long-term side effects differed depending on the treatment.

Men who had surgery had a higher risk of leaking urine. But men who had radiation therapy had a higher risk of bowel problems. Certain men had a higher risk of sexual problems soon after surgery. But by 10 years, no significant differences were found between the treatment groups.

“Given the similar survival rates, the choice of treatment for patients may be influenced by the adverse effects of the treatments,” says Dr. Bashir Al Hussein Al Awamlh, of Vanderbilt University, who helped lead the study.