Context Patients with prostate cancer and their physicians need knowledge of
treatment options and their potential complications, but limited data on complications
are available in unselected population-based cohorts of patients.
Objective To measure changes in urinary and sexual function in men who have undergone
radical prostatectomy for clinically localized prostate cancer.
Design The Prostate Cancer Outcomes Study, a population-based longitudinal
cohort study with up to 24 months of follow-up.
Setting Population-based cancer registries in 6 geographic regions of the United
Participants A total of 1291 black, white, and Hispanic men aged 39 to 79 years who
were diagnosed as having primary prostate cancer between October 1, 1994,
and October 31, 1995, and who underwent radical prostatectomy within 6 months
of diagnosis for clinically localized disease.
Main Outcome Measures Distribution of and change in urinary and sexual function measures reported
by patients at baseline and 6, 12, and 24 months after diagnosis.
Results At 18 or more months following radical prostatectomy, 8.4% of men were
incontinent and 59.9% were impotent. Among men who were potent before surgery,
the proportion of men reporting impotence at 18 or more months after surgery
varied according to whether the procedure was nerve sparing (65.6% of non–nerve-sparing,
58.6% of unilateral, and 56.0% of bilateral nerve–sparing). At 18 or
more months after surgery, 41.9% reported that their sexual performance was
a moderate-to-large problem. Both sexual and urinary function varied by age
(39.0% of men aged <60 years vs 15.3%-21.7% of older men were potent at ≥18
months [P<.001]; 13.8% of men aged 75-79 years
vs 0.7%-3.6% of younger men experienced the highest level of incontinence
at ≥18 months [P = .03]), and sexual function
also varied by race (38.4% of black men reported firm erections at ≥18
months vs 25.9% of Hispanic and 21.3% of white men; P
Conclusions Our study suggests that radical prostatectomy is associated with significant
erectile dysfunction and some decline in urinary function. These results may
be particularly helpful to community-based physicians and their patients with
prostate cancer who face difficult treatment decisions.