Prostate cancer patients do not experience declining sexual function following radiation therapy, according to researchers at the Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.

According to the press release announcing the findings, prostate cancer can be effectively treated using multiple methods, including prostatectomy, brachytherapy, and external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) and the long-term side effects are often considered by both patients and physicians when deciding treatment options.

For the study, Richard Valicenti, MD, MA, professor and chair of radiation oncology at the University of California, Davis, School of Medicine, and colleagues evaluated 143 prostate cancer patients receiving EBRT who completed baseline data on sexual function before treatment and at follow-up visits.

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When research analyzed patients’ sexual drive, erectile function, ejaculatory function, and overall satisfaction they reported that the strongest predictor of sexual function after treatment was sexual function before treatment and the only statistically significant decrease in function occurred in the first 2 years after treatment and then stabilized with no significant changes thereafter.

“Treatment-related side effects, especially sexual function, have a significant effect on a patient’s quality of life and satisfaction with their overall outcome,” said Dr Valicenti. “The results of this study allow patients and their partners to have a fuller understanding of the long-term sexual side effects of EBRT and what they can expect after treatment, which should aid in deciding on a treatment course.”

The findings were published in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics (2010 ;76[1]:31-35).