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Data Predicts Erectile Function After Cancer Treatment

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, September 21, 2011

Prostate cancer specialists can now predict a patient's chances of having erectile dysfunction after prostatectomy, external radiotherapy, or brachytherapy, based on data derived from patient-centered outcomes research, a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association says.

The multi-center clinical trial, led by Mehrdad Alemozaffar, MD, and Martin Sanda, MD, of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, tracked the outcomes from treatments after two years for 1,027 men with early-stage cancers treated at nine academic hospitals. Predictive values were further refined based on patients' pretreatment sexual and disease characteristics.

"The ability to inform individual patients how likely they are to develop erectile dysfunction based on their personal baseline sexual function, cancer severity, individual clinical characteristics and treatment plan has been elusive," the researchers wrote.

"Our findings address this need by providing a validated, broadly applicable framework to predict the probability of long-term, post-treatment erectile dysfunction for individual patients."

Researchers discovered that 24 months later, 35% of men who underwent prostatectomy were able to attain functional erections suitable for intercourse, but that increased to 37% of men who chose radiotherapy and 43% of men who opted for brachytherapy. Those percentages included all patients, including those who did not have erectile function prior to their procedures.

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