In Today’s issue of The New England Journal of Medicine are the results of a study which tried to: (a) find out what factors determine quality of life (QOL) after primary treatment for prostate cancer, and (b) measure the effects of these factors on overall satisfaction with the treatment outcome as reported by (i) patients and (ii) their spouses or partners. The primary treatments that were studied are: (1) radical prostatectomy (surgery), (2) brachytherapy (radioactive seed implants), and (3) external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) — standard radiation therapy or IMRT — Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy. In some cases, hormone therapy was added to brachytherapy or EBRT.

Here is a summary of reported side effects for each treatment:

Prostatectomy/ EBRT/ Brachytherapy
Urinary problems 7% 11% 16%
Bowel problems 1% 11% 8%
Sexual problems 43% 37% 30%

*One important finding is that radical prostatectomy (surgery) is a very safe procedure — NO deaths were reported among 1201 patients and serious side effects were rare.*

This study is worth paying attention to because of the highly regarded source, and so I ha