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GU Cancers 2019 | Radiotherapy for prostate cancer and sexual health

Bridget Koontz, MD, of the Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, talks on how the medical community are addressing the needs of prostate cancer survivors. Dr Koontz primarily discusses the negative impacts treatment can have on sexual function and how this can be avoided. This interview was recorded at the 2019 Genitourinary Cancers Symposium, held in San Francisco, CA.

Transcript (edited for clarity)

So for prostate cancer, the main, one of the main survivorship issues is sexual function and that hit across the board, whatever treatment modality you’re using that is affected. It’s because of the real estate, it’s because of the testosterone and so, and that’s also I think one of the main priorities for many of these patients.

So there are a couple of options. I think first thing is just having a frank conversation and helping deal with expectations. Helping patients know that this is a common side effect and that it’s something that’s important to us for them and we’ll be able to manage those side effects as they come up. And for many men they, they’re focused on the cancer treatment at the beginning, but they want to know what’s going to happen after and what options am I going to have.

As I said, we are looking at strategies to protect erectile function and that might either be through how we deliver the radiation dose. It might be through using combination modalities that allow us to do lower radiation doses. It might be through strategies of radio protective drugs. So I think that is an area that for future research that we need to look into.

And then there’s also just the general issues of other health issues that come up with these cancer patients as they age and they’re having had previous treatments. Folks who are on androgen deprivation therapy have a lot of other health issues, like the risk for osteoporosis and cardiac effects, weight gain, fatigue.

And so part of what I’m interested in is looking at how to make sure we’re activating patients to take care of the rest of their health. Staying active, exercising, eating healthy. And so that really needs to get rolled into all the survivorship care plans and how we address survivor’s needs.