SIDE EFFECT MANAGEMENT

It is almost inevitable that a man who receives treatment (surgery, radiotherapy, hormonal therapy, chemotherapy) for prostate cancer will develop some form of side effect. Our aim is to educate men about the likely side effects of treatment and to offer continuing supporting care and active intervention when side effects do occur.

For instance, our PCI endocrinologist will consult with men who require long-term systematic therapy with hormones or chemotherapy, given the known risk of osteoporosis as a result of such treatment. Other management dilemmas, including urinary incontinence, erectile impotence, hot flushes and bowel disturbances will also be managed proactively. Our targeted research programs aim to prevent or reduce the side effect profile of the various prostate cancer treatments.

Erectile Dysfunction Information
How does prostate cancer affect your sexuality?
Surgery and radiotherapy can damage the nerves and blood vessels that control erections. Hormone therapy reduces levels of testosterone - a hormone needed for erections and sexual desire.
Many men continue to enjoy sex throughout their lives and well into old age. If you are one of these men you will need to think about how treatment for prostate cancer may affect your sexuality. Treatments can affect your:
•      ability to get an erection
•      desire to have sex
•      ability to ejaculate and orgasm
•      fertility


What is erectile dysfunction?
This is the frequent inability to get or keep an erection strong enough for intercourse or other sexual activity. Erectile dysfunction is also known as ED or impotence. It is a common problem that has several possible causes, including treatment for prostate cancer.


Causes of ED
Erectile dysfunction can be caused by one or a combination of:

  1. Emotional or psychological problems

  2. Stress and anxiety, as well as worries about sexual performance and depression

  3. Other medical conditions. These include high blood pressure and its treatment, diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, neurological diseases, penile and prostate conditions and hormone abnormalities


Links to the following sites will give you more information on the causes and treatment options for erectile dysfunction.

You can find a guide to understanding and treating erectile dysfunction which may aid you and your partner to make a decision about how treatment options affect your sexual function click here
To talk to someone over the phone or online contact Andrology Australia on 1300 303 878 or on their website.

ED and sexual relationships
If you have a partner, it is important that you involve them in any decisions you make about treatment for ED. Emotional or psychological problems can play a part in the development of ED so discussing any problems or worries with your partner can help. Your partner can go with you to your GP or hospital appointments, and couple's therapy is available through the Prostate Cancer Institute. Relationships Australia also assists in addressing the relationship aspects of erectile dysfunction. Phone the national office on 1300 364 277 or go on their website. For further information about sexuality and relationships click here.

Continence

Urinary incontinence
Urinary incontinence is a term used to describe losing control of your bladder and wetting yourself. This includes being damp or soaked. Incontinence relates to poor or lack of control, which includes symptoms such as urgency and frequency. Some patients can have problems prior to treatment for prostate cancer, others afterwards. It is important to be honest with your doctor about your incontinence so we can assist you in improving these problems and subsequently your quality of life. Contact your doctor if you have problems with incontinence or if you would like some further information or support contact the following services:

St George Hospital Continence Service 02 9113 3278

Or The Continence Foundation of Australia (CFA) has a national helpline. Call 1800 330 066 to leave a message, and a continence nurse adviser will ring you. This service runs from 8am to 8pm Mon to Fri. CFA provides fact sheets on different types of continence problems and runs seminars for the general public and health professionals. It can assist you to find services in your local area. You can access their website here.


Pelvic floor exercises are good for strengthening pelvic floor muscles to control the movement of the bladder and bowel. They can be used prior to treatment or after treatment. You can download a demonstration and information sheet here.


Visit the TENA continence pads website ( www.tenaformen.com.au) for information on use of continence pads for men, and a list of supermarkets stocking various brands of pads.


The Public Toilet Map website ( www.toiletmap.gov.au) provides the location of public toilets in Australia, to assist in planning journeys.