Prostate cancer is the commonest cancer in men and claims more than 10,000 lives annually in the UK. Provided that it is caught early, it can reliably be cured. Once the disease spreads outside the gland, however, cure is no longer possible.
Every case is unique, and the outcomes are unpredictable. Large tumours, for example, may necessitate wide excision, and this may compromise the nerves. Difficulties with sexual function very often resolve in time and with patience, supported by professional help , including psycho-sexual counselling therapy, and aided by one or more of the medications and devices that are now widely available.
Unfortunately, all the methods of treating prostate cancer which is still within the gland carry the risk of side-effects, particularly on sexual function. Surgery to remove the prostate (including keyhole surgery with robotic assistance) can reliably cure the disease and spare the nerves which are necessary to create erections, but in some cases these no longer work effectively without the aid of treatment.
The overriding concern for both consultant and patient is to achieve the best possible cancer clearance.
Read Prof R Kirby and Prof P Dasgupta’s comments in the recent Daily Mail article “Does prostate cancer have to end your sex life“, published on 5th April 2011.
Listen to the Radio 2 interview with Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, aired on Friday 1st April 2011.