Although patients with prostate cancer face many treatment options, to the authors’ knowledge the comparative effects of different surgical and radiotherapy (RT) options on sexual function are unclear.

In the current study, a population-based cohort of 835 men with newly diagnosed prostate cancer from 2011 through 2013 was recruited throughout North Carolina in collaboration with the Rapid Case Ascertainment system of the North Carolina Central Cancer Registry. All men were enrolled prior to treatment and followed prospectively using the validated Prostate Cancer Symptom Indices (PCSI) instrument. This analysis compares the sexual dysfunction scores of the PCSI among patients who received external-beam RT (EBRT), EBRT with androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), brachytherapy, nerve-sparing radical prostatectomy (RP), and non-nerve-sparing RP. Propensity scores were used to balance patient characteristics across groups, and multiple imputation was used for missing data.

EBRT and brachytherapy resulted in similar PCSI scores through 24 months. Compared with those receiving EBRT, patients treated with EBRT with ADT and RP with or without nerve sparing were found to have worse PCSI scores at all posttreatment time points. Preservation of useful sexual function at 24 months was associated with treatment type, baseline score, and age. Predicted preservation rates were 14.1% to 70.7% for EBRT, 8.4% to 52.3% for EBRT with ADT, 4.7% to 45.3% for nerve-sparing RP, and 4.8% to 34.5% for non-nerve-sparing RP.

The findings of the current study indicate that RT alone results in the best preservation of sexual function, and brachytherapy provides similar outcomes. RT with ADT and nerve-sparing RP yielded similar outcomes, whereas patients treated with non-nerve-sparing RP experienced the worst sexual function. These results help patients to make decisions among the specific types of surgery and RT they face based on each individual’s diagnosis.

Cancer. 2019 Jun 30 [Epub ahead of print]

Brandon T Mullins, Ramsankar Basak, James R Broughman, Ronald C Chen

Department of Radiation Oncology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.