UK prostate cancer patients left to struggle with poor sexual function

Author: Movember
More than four in five British men struggle with sexual problems following treatment for prostate cancer yet over half (56%) fail to receive any medical help, according to new research funded by the Movember Foundation.

Although erectile dysfunction (ED) is a known side effect of prostate cancer, the study entitled Life After Prostate Cancer Diagnosis and published in medical journal Lancet Oncology, has for the first time revealed the true extent of the problem in the UK.

Worryingly, more than half of men over the age of 65 (61%) were not offered any medical advice or support for ED, compared to a fifth of men under the age of 55.

The Movember Foundation in partnership with Prostate Cancer UK are now urging men to have the confidence to speak out about side effects and for healthcare professionals to proactively discuss sexual problems both before and post treatment and direct them to the appropriate support.

Owen Sharp, CEO of the Movember Foundation, says “Sexual dysfunction can have a huge impact on quality of life following a cancer diagnosis. We know that men are often made to feel that they should be grateful to be alive, regardless of the ongoing effects of their prostate cancer treatment. It isn’t right that any man – whatever his age - should have to accept that."

In a bid to tackle the problem, the Movember Foundation is funding an online self-management programme for men living with prostate cancer which will be available later this year through the global TrueNTH initiative. It will provide personalised self-management strategies to help improve sexual wellbeing after prostate cancer.

Owen Sharp continues: “Providing better support for men after prostate cancer is a major priority for Movember. Programmes like ours give medical teams the tools they need to help men who are struggling with sexual dysfunction.”

The report is the country’s largest ever patient-reported outcomes study for the disease. It involved over 30,000 men across the UK.

Men were asked about their quality of life and experiences of living with prostate cancer 18-42 months following their diagnosis, from the side effects of treatment to the psychological impact of living with the disease. 

Although men whose cancer had not spread beyond the prostate generally reported a good overall quality of life 18-42 months following their diagnosis, poor sexual function remained a significant issue for 75% of these men.

Life After Prostate Cancer Diagnosis was funded by the Movember Foundation, in partnership with Prostate Cancer UK, as part of the Prostate Cancer Outcomes programme. It was delivered in partnership between the University of Leeds, Queen’s University Belfast, University of Southampton, Oxford Brookes University and Public Health England.

For further information on the Life After Prostate Cancer Diagnosis study, visit: http://www.lifeafterprostatecancerdiagnosis.com/