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Do some prostate cancer treatments affect penis size? Absolutely, say a research team headed by physicians at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center in Boston, Massachusetts.1 Some treatments for prostate cancer do seem to result in a smaller penis, leading the patient to regret the type of treatment he chose to have.1


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For their study, investigators researched the penis size of 948 men treated for prostate cancer by having their physicians complete a survey on each patient. The men were enrolled in the Comprehensive Observational Multicenter Prostate Adenocarcinoma (COMPARE) registry. The study results were published in Urology. 

Of the 948 men in the study, 22% were younger than 60 years.1 The majority of the participants were in their 60s, 70s, and 80s. Fifty-four percent of the men had undergone prostatectomy, 24% received radiotherapy combined with hormone-blocking treatment, and 22% of the men received radiotherapy alone.1

The assessment for this study took place an average of 5.5 years after the participants were treated. The participants’ prostate cancer was treated with radical prostatectomy, radiotherapy (external beam radiation therapy or brachytherapy [implantation of radioactive seeds into the prostate]) with androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), and radiotherapy without ADT. A small percentage of the study participants (2.63%) complained of having a smaller penis after undergoing treatment. The study results correlated with the different treatment modalities. 


Most of the participants who complained that their penises were shorter after treatment had undergone radical prostatectomy or RT combined with ADT, according to the researchers, whereas none of the men who underwent radiation therapy alone had complained. Some of the men who perceived that their penises were shorter also said the reduced size interfered with their intimate relationships and they regretted choosing the type of treatment they did.

Paul Nguyen, MD, a radiation oncologist at Dana-Farber, and Harvard medical student Arti Parekh led the research team.1 The researchers said that theirs is the first study connecting perception of a reduction in patients’ penis size to problems in their emotional relationships, lowered life satisfaction, and to regrets about the specific type of treatment the patient chose for his prostate cancer.1