Prostate cancer treatment may shorten penis

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prostate cancerMen who receive combination treatment with hormone therapy plus radiation for local or locally advanced prostate cancer may experience a significant reduction in penile length, according to a report in the January issue of the Journal of Urology.

There has been anecdotal evidence that radiation therapy can reduce penile length but, to the authors' knowledge, the present study is the first to determine if penile length changes following combination treatment with hormone therapy plus radiation.

Dr. Ahmet Haliloglu and colleagues at the University of Ankara in Turkey enrolled 47 men with local or locally advanced prostate cancer. The patients, who were followed from 2000 to 2005, received leuprolide or goserelin injections every 3 months, for a total of three doses. At month 7, radiotherapy, using a 70-Gy dose, was initiated and continued for 7 weeks.

Just before treatment began, the average stretched penile length was 5.6 inches. Eighteen months later, the average penile length had shortened significantly to 3.4 inches.

Erectile function was also adversely affected by treatment. Roughly 23 percent of men had normal erectile function before therapy. Eighteen months later, 12.5 percent were able to have an erection that was suitable for intercourse.

"Quality of life concerns are important when considering treatment options for prostate cancer," the investigators conclude. Before starting combination hormone and radiation therapy, the patient should be told that "penile shortening may occur."

SOURCE: Journal of Urology, January 2007.

Copyright © 2007 Reuters Limited

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