When deciding which treatment option is best for their prostate cancer, men take numerous factors into consideration. While their physician’s recommendation does play an important role in the treatment decision, in the end, most men make the choice that is best for them. That choice is often based on treatment outcomes and side effects, and sexual function is a central consideration for most men.
As with any cancer patient, the number one priority for men diagnosed with prostate cancer is survival, but for many men, sexual performance is highly valued and is more important than other side effects and treatment characteristics. Many physicians say that sexual function is one of the first things men ask about if they are diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Over the years, improved techniques, corrective procedures, and medications have reduced many of the urinary and bowel side effects historically associated with prostate cancer treatment, so the quality of a man’s sex life can now be the deciding factor for many men and their partners.
Radiation therapy has long been a standard treatment in prostate cancer treatment. Similar to surgery, damage to blood vessels and nerves after radiation therapy can result in decreased erectile function over time, but, in general, radiation therapy has less of an influence on erectile function after treatment. According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, radiation therapy has less of an impact on erectile function in the first five to ten years after treatment compared with surgery, and approximately 70% of men who have baseline erectile function before treatment will keep erectile function after treatment.
At St. Louis CyberKnife, we use the CyberKnife® Robotic Radiosurgery System to deliver targeted radiation therapy to men diagnosed with prostate cancer. CyberKnife is a painless, nonsurgical prostate cancer treatment technology in which high-dose radiation is delivered to the tumor from a linear accelerator mounted on a highly maneuverable robotic arm. Hundreds of different angles enable the radiation to be contoured to the shape of the prostate, resulting in treatment aimed directly to the tumor and sparing nearby healthy tissue, including the nerves and blood vessels involved in sexual function. This precision reduces treatment time to just five outpatient visits, compared to the average 45 visits conventional radiation therapy requires.
It is natural and healthy to want an active sex life. If you, or someone you love, have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, or you have questions regarding prostate cancer treatment options, please contact St. Louis CyberKnife today.