Prostate Cancer Side Effects

You've heard the dreadfully modern aphorism, “sometimes the treatment is worse than the disease.” Although nothing is worse than a fatal disease, it is true that treating one may sometimes result in side effects that appear every bit as bad as the disease's own symptoms.

In the case of advanced prostate cancer, this aphorism can be true even though the disease's symptoms are pretty bad. Taken together, symptoms and treatment side effects can lead to a greatly reduced quality of life until treatment eventually has its positive effect.

One of the major side effects of nearly all treatment for advanced prostate cancer is impotence. In cases where treatment involves an orchiectomy, or testicle removal, 90 percent of patients will suffer from impotence. In the case of androgen deprivation therapy, where drugs are introduced to lower the patient's testosterone levels, impotence is also a likely side effect. Regular sexual function can return, however, once ADT ceases.

Another common side effect when dealing with just about any treatment for a prostate gland ailment is incontinence. Happily, your doctor has many ways to address this. A regimen of Kegel exercises can help you regain control by strengthening your pelvic and sphincter muscles. There are also a number of medications that your doctor can prescribe to treat this side effect as well.

The incontinence born of advanced prostate cancer treatments may be reversible, but the infertility is not. For many men undergoing these procedures this won't be an issue as the disease often strikes men after they are of an age inclined to have more children. Those wishing to preserve their fertility need to make this desire known to their doctor before treatments begin. There are some techniques a urologist may employ to prevent infertility, if the intention is made known early enough.

When prostate cancer metastasizes, it often spreads first to the surrounding bones, and the result can be quite painful. Bones so affected will also likely become weak and prone to fractures. Worse still, the endocrine therapy sometimes employed as a treatment to retard advanced prostate cancer can have similar effects on your bones, compounding the problems. Fortunately, your doctor has a battery of treatments available to combat this side effect. These include a class of drugs known as bisphosphonates, designed to prevent the loss of bone mass. A technique known as external beam radiation therapy, which directs radiation to the bones, alleviating the pain, is also available.

Sources: WebMD