Prostate Cancer Patients Upset Over Shortened Penises

By: Sean Patterson - January 24, 2013

According to a new study from researchers from Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center (DF/BWCC), a small percentage of men treated for prostate cancer complained that their penis seemed shorter after treatment. Some of the men even complained that the predicament interfered with their intimate relationships and regretted their treatment option.

The complaints were more common in men treated with radical prostatectomy (the surgical removal of the prostate) or hormone-blocking drugs combined with radiation therapy. No men who received radiation therapy alone complained of a shortened penis.

The study, soon to be published in the journal Urology, is the first to link perceptions of a shorter penis to lowered life satisfaction, relationship problems, and regret about certain prostate cancer treatments. Researchers surveyed 948 doctors who had treated men for prostate cancer that had seen a recurrance. Overall, 2.63% of the men complained of smaller penises, while 3.73% of those who received surgery complained of a shortened penis.

It seems that the men might not just be imagining things, either. Dr. Paul Nguyen, a radiation oncologist who led the study, stated that a smaller penis is a “well-known” side effect among doctors, but that “it’s almost never discussed with patients, so it can be very upsetting to some men when it occurs.”

There were no direct measurements of penis size in the study, and the surveyed doctors did not ask patients about their penis size. The complaints were brought up by the patients themselves during conversations with their doctors. For this reason, the study’s authors suggest that the problem could be more widespread than the survey found. The study recommends that doctors discuss the possibility of a shortened penis with patients before treatment.

“Patients can deal with almost any side effect if they have some inkling ahead of time that they may happen,” said Nguyen. “Prostate cancer is one of the few cancers where patients have a choice of therapies, and because of the range of possible side effects, it can be a tough choice. This study says that when penile shortening does occur, it really does affect patients and their quality of life. It’s something we should be discussing up front so that it will help reduce treatment regrets.”

About the Author

Sean PattersonSean is a staff writer for WebProNews. Follow Sean on Google+: +Sean Patterson and Twitter: @St_Patt

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  • http://yahoo Jim

    Yes it is shorter and a loss of thichness, about 1/3. My operation was three years ago, so the loss is forever.Doctors should tell patients.

    • http://WebProNews steve

      Prostate removed two yrs ago significantly shorter penis. No erections even with meds. Not happy with procedure. Dr.said if I was her brother this what she recommended I do to be sure to get rid of cancer.But yet I have to see her again this coming Monday to find out lab results to see if it is coming back. VERY DISAPPOINTED !!!!

  • g. hauser

    I was told i had PC allmost 5 years ago. Chose not to let the butchers near me. It seems to me its all about money and cutting. I’m 65 , i’d rather die than be strappd wiith a bag of crap to my waist. A cock that wont work, sitting in a pile of depends diapers, smelling like an open sewer…….study the alternatives before u let them near u with the blade. G. H.

  • David

    Yes it’s true in a percentage of cases the penis is shorter post operation. And it is also true that this subject is rarely mentioned, then and apparently now. I had my radical prostatectomy in 1993 when I was 53 yrs. At the time I was working in the Radio and Television Industry as an on air host and voice talent. One of my clients specialized in information and educational videos for the health sciences. Upon learning of my situation he asked if I would host a series of videos including a panel of Urologists etc. who among other things would discuss various options, procedures and answers to various pre determined questions. Not once did the “short question” come up. Another related observation which was not addressed was penal curve. This is when after the operation scar tissue develops. Upon getting an erection the scarring acts like a rubber band usually on one side more than the other and pulls (tethers) the penis in that direction, hence the penal curve. I mentioned this to my Doctor and he half jokingly explained he could fix it by scarring the opposite side. Thus pulling it in the opposite direction and straightening it out, however the down side would be that the penis would be reduced in length. No thanks Doc. I’ll make do with what I’ve got. This by the way was the first time the shortened penis question ever raised it’s little head. For what it’s worth, I have found that any anxiety men feel over this is personal insecurity which is very understandable. If you’re worried what your partner might feel, don’t. They will not only be empathetic but probably could not care less. One last personal footnote…. about 5 years ago, 15 years after the operation my penis decided to go straight…. I suppose after a while “rubber Bands” lose their elasticity. The human body is truly an amazing machine.

    • Mrs.

      I love your comment. As someone with a loved one facing prostate cancer surgery and as a mature active woman I can assure any man facing this side effect that your partner will NOT mind this a bit. Men come in all sizes and shapes and we are built to accomodate them and enjoy it- period. Your health is what we are most concerned about. I find that I am more attracted to my husband now that he is pushing 50 than I was when he was 28. I do not care about the slight physical changes or hair changes period. You know that we are changing too right? We love you and do not for one minute think about these things.

  • Tim

    Every man with prostate cancer needs to ask to see a radiation oncologist to get “the rest of the story”. Radiation is as effective as surgery but it takes a good urologist to say that.

    It would seem obvious that urologists make money by operating on patients — and this is true. But it is interesting that whenever a urology group buys a radiation machine, they start telling patients they need radiation. Why? Because they can make more money if patients get radiation. Hmmmm….

    The BEST urologists make sure their patients talk to a radiation doctor BEFORE operating. That way the patient is fully informed. They may “lose” some prostatectomies, but their patients will know the urologist has the PATIENT’S best interest at heart.