04:07 PM ET 01/18/00
By MARTHA IRVINE Associated Press Writer
CHICAGO (AP) _ One of the largest surveys of men who had their cancerous
prostates removed found that nearly 60 percent were impotent and more
than 8 percent lacked bladder control more than a year and a half later.
While such side effects of the surgery are well known, the figures could
help patients make the difficult decision of whether to have their
"It's clearly a large effect on men's quality of life, and I think it's
important they go into the surgery knowing that," said Janet Stanford, a
researcher at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle who
led the study.
The study appears in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical
Previous studies found a wide range of difficulties with incontinence
and impotence a year or more after patients' prostates were removed up
to 40 percent reported problems holding their bladders and 29 percent to
75 percent reported trouble getting and maintaining erections.
About 59 percent of those who had unilateral nerve-sparing procedures
(in which one of two nerve bundles can be saved) and 56 percent of those
who underwent bilteral nerve sparing (both nerve bundles remain) said
they were impotent 18 months or more after the surgery.
Nearly 66 percent of those whose nerves were not spared said they could
not keep or sustain an erection. Doctors say the nerves can regenerate,
but that can take up to two years.