More than half of British men treated for prostate cancer were abandoned without support
Thousands of men are being abandoned without support after surviving prostate cancer, a study has found.
More than half of men successfully treated for the disease in Britain are left without help for the most common side-effects.
Researchers interviewed 30,000 men in the largest ever study looking at life after prostate cancer.
More than half of men successfully treated for the prostate cancer in Britain are left without help for the most common side-effects, including erectile dysfunction
The findings, published in the Lancet Oncology journal, found 81 per cent of men were left with poor sexual function after their treatment.
There are many treatments for impotence, including cheap and effective pills such as Viagra, yet 56 per cent of men in the study received no intervention or support at all.
Experts led by the University of Southampton, Oxford Brookes and Queen’s University Belfast found support worsened the older men got.
Some 61 per cent of men over the age of 65 were offered no support for erectile dysfunction, compared with 22 per cent for those under 55.
Professor Adam Glaser, of the University of Leeds, a senior author of the report, said: ‘Many men now live with prostate cancer, rather than dying from prostate cancer.
‘And it is really important that we give them support and options after treatment, rather than writing them off as old men.’
He said men often avoid discussing intimate topics, but added: ‘As men it is not what we talk about in the pub. But this study is a red flag that we in the health services need to proactively address it.’
81 per cent of men were left with poor sexual function after their treatment for prostate cancer
The study, funded by the Movember Foundation and Prostate Cancer UK, showed 94 per cent who underwent hormone therapy, 84 per cent who had surgery and 79 per cent who had radiotherapy suffered sexual problems within three-and-a-half years of their diagnosis.
Treatments are improving to avoid side-effects such as sexual dysfunction – with robotic surgery and specialist counselling, for example, driving down the rate of problems.
The Daily Mail is campaigning for greater awareness, treatment and diagnosis of prostate cancer. There are 400,000 men in Britain who have either survived the disease or are still being treated.
Yet some doctors still prioritise treating the cancer at all costs, with little view as to how men recover afterwards.
Heather Blake, of Prostate Cancer UK, said the number of men left without support for sexual problems ‘simply isn’t good enough’, adding: ‘With long term implications including depression, this is a side-effect that must not be swept under the carpet.’
NHS England said it was ‘critical’ that men felt comfortable talking about side-effects of treatment.
I considered suicide
Retired restaurant owner Ted Wood was 60 when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Doctors caught the problem early and the treatment he received eradicated the cancer.
But, crucially, the procedure left him unable to function sexually.
Ted Wood from Bristol, who is recovering from prostate cancer, and his wife Jenny
‘My wife Jenny and I had had a good sex life,’ said Mr Wood, from Bristol. ‘I felt it was too early to give up on that part of my life.’
Mr Wood sought support, but said his GP was ‘not interested’ and he later fell into depression. ‘It felt like I was losing my masculinity. I contemplated suicide.’
But Mr Wood, now 70, is enjoying a happy sex life with his wife again after success with a modified regimen of a drug called Cialis. ‘We had to be very matter of fact about it,’ he said. ‘But it has worked.’