According to the researchers, physicians are aware that a reduction in penis size can be a side effect of some prostate cancer treatment modalities; however, this is rarely explained to the patient. The researchers suggest that this is wrong; the patient should be prepared for any side effect in order to make more informed choices about which treatment he would want. 

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The shortened penis length is most often a result of non-nerve sparing surgery, which can cause fibrosis and atrophy of erectile tissue due to nerve and vascular damage, the study authors explained. Prior studies have confirmed this. But again, it is not usually discussed with the patient before surgery. The men’s physicians did not directly measure the penis before or after surgery. Nor did they bring up the subject in conversations with their patients. The only time a discussion about penis size came about was when the patient himself brought up the subject. Since it is just not a common topic of conversation, the study authors theorize that the problem may be more prevalent than reported in this study.


“Prostate cancer is one of the few cancers where patients have a choice of therapies, and because of the range of possible side effects, it can be a tough choice,” said Nguyen. This study says that when penile shortening does occur, it really does affects patients and their quality of life. It’s something we should be discussing up front so that it can help reduce treatment regrets.1 ONA

Bette Weinstein Kaplan is a medical writer based in Tenafly, New Jersey.


1. Parekh A, Chen MH, Hoffman KE, et al. Reduced penile size and treatment regret in men with recurrent prostate cancer after surgery, radiotherapy plus androgen deprivation, or radiotherapy alone. Urology. 2013;81(1):130-135.