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Study: Men Find Penises To Be Shorter After Prostate Cancer Treatment

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A man with prostate cancer is wheeled into an operating room for a bracytherapy operation. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A man with prostate cancer is wheeled into an operating room for an operation. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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ATLANTA (CBS Atlanta) – A new study has found that some men who undergo treatment for prostate cancer have, upon its completion, complained of having a seemingly shorter penis.

One patient in particular expressed shock at the diminished size of his penis after treatment.

“I specifically asked my doctors before the surgery multiple times about possible complications and cosmetic outcomes and never once was possible penile shortening mentioned,” the 32-year-old man was quoted as saying on MedHelp, an online support forum. “Stroke, heart attack and death were mentioned as risks during surgery and failure, recurrence, and ED were mentioned as possible side effects of the procedure [as well as scars.]“

He added, “Erectile length probably shouldn’t matter if the surgery is otherwise successful, but I would’ve [sic] preferred at the very least a warning about the risk of shortening — even if temporary — so I could’ve at least psychologically prepared for the possibility or perhaps opted for another treatment.”

Upon noticing repeated incidents of such complaints – as many as 25 patients out of a total of 948 surveyed patients whose insights contributed to the study – researchers concluded that doctors should discuss the possibility of seeing a decrease in penis size post-treatment with their patients.

Prostate cancer affects hundreds of thousands of men – 214,633 in one year alone, according to the Centers for Disease control and Prevention in Atlanta. And of those men, a reported 28,471 lost their lives to it.

The American Cancer Society additionally states that prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men, the website Common Health is reporting.

“Some people might think this is frivolous — who cares about a slightly shortened penis? But it really does affect people’s lives,” Lead author Paul L. Nguyen, M.D., a radiation oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center in Boston, was quoted as saying. “If guys [in the study] had this bad result they were much more likely to regret the path they chose. This is important to talk about up front when people are making their decisions.”

The website additionally learned that complaints of a shorter penis were made most by men who either had their prostate surgically removed or those who used a combination of hormone inhibitors and radiation therapy to eradicate the cancer.

The study was published in the journal Urology last year, and was presented at the 2012 Genitourinary Cancers Symposium.

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