Physical effects after prostate cancer common

Men who have survived prostate cancer should be assessed for physical symptoms, such as impotence and fatigue, as these are common afterwards and can last for years, Irish doctors have said.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer found in men in developed countries. Almost 3,500 cases are newly diagnosed every year in the Republic of Ireland, while a further 1,000 are diagnosed in Northern Ireland.

Furthermore, among male cancer survivors, prostate cancer is the most common cancer - some 40% of all male cancer survivors in the Republic and 34% in Northern Ireland had prostate cancer.

However, as with any cancer diagnosis, survivors can experience different short-term and long-term effects afterwards. The doctors set out to measure these effects in over 3,000 prostate cancer survivors who were between two and 18 years post-diagnosis.

They found that three-quarters of the men had at least one ongoing symptom, while almost one-third had three or more symptoms. Some 4% had five or more symptoms.

Almost two-thirds of the men said that they currently suffered with impotence, urinary incontinence and/or bowel problems. Other effects included loss of libido, fatigue and hot flashes.

"In conclusion, physical symptoms following prostate cancer are common, often multiple and persist years after diagnosis representing a large health burden. Recognition and treatment of physical symptoms should be prioritised in patient follow-up," the doctors said.

They made their comments in the Irish journal, Cancer Professional.