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Impotence Reported After Surgery

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 prostates removed.


"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 Association.


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.



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