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Prostate Cancer Treatments Side Effects

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Prostate cancer treatments and the possible side effects that result depend largely on the specific treatment that the PCa patient undergoes. While that may sound obvious (duh…), the article linked and excerpted below segments the risk of what side effect coming from which treatment.

A very useful article if you are a prostate cancer patient considering possible PCa therapies.

To be clear, I am not any sort of medical professional. I am a long-term survivor of an incurable blood cancer called multiple myeloma. I research and write about cancer and their short, long-term and late stage side effects because I live with a host of long-term and late stage side effects from my aggressive chemo and radiation.

What are the most common side effects from prostate cancer treatments?

The side effects of prostate cancer treatments can vary depending on the specific treatment method used. Here are some common side effects associated with different prostate cancer treatments:

  1. Surgery (radical prostatectomy):
    • Erectile dysfunction (impotence)
    • Urinary incontinence (leakage of urine)
    • Changes in ejaculation (such as decreased volume or dry orgasm)
    • Infertility (inability to father children)
    • Narrowing of the urethra (urethral stricture)
  2. Radiation therapy:
    • Fatigue
    • Skin irritation or sensitivity in the pelvic area
    • Bowel problems (diarrhea, rectal bleeding)
    • Urinary problems (frequent urination, urgency, burning sensation)
    • Erectile dysfunction (can occur gradually over time)
  3. Hormone therapy (androgen deprivation therapy):
    • Decreased libido (sex drive)
    • Erectile dysfunction
    • Hot flashes
    • Breast tenderness or enlargement (gynecomastia)
    • Loss of muscle mass
    • Osteoporosis (bone thinning)
  4. Chemotherapy:
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Fatigue
    • Hair loss
    • Increased risk of infection (due to lowered white blood cell count)
    • Peripheral neuropathy (tingling or numbness in hands and feet)

As you can guess from this post, my FDA approved, conventional standard-of-care therapies did little to treat my blood cancer and left me with long-term and late stage side effects that I struggle with daily. I understand that treatments may be both curative and come with risks at the same time.

I have learned however, that oncology often does a lousy job of clearly explaining the risks of side effects to the patient.

man hand holding his nutritional supplemets, healthy lifestyle background.

I have also learned that evidence-based non-conventional therapies such a nutrition, supplementation and lifestyle therapies such as sauna and moderate exercise, can improve the efficacy of conventional therapies as well as improve quality of life in prostate cancer survivors.

Have you been diagnosed with prostate cancer? Are you considering one of the therapy plans discussed below? If you’d like to learn more about complementary therapies send me an email at David.PeopleBeatingCancer@gmail.com

Good luck,

David Emerson

  • Cancer Survivor
  • Cancer Coach
  • Director PeopleBeatingCancer

Comparing side effects after prostate cancer treatment

“At a Glance-

  • Men with cancer confined to the prostate experienced different long-term side effects depending on the type of treatment received.
  • Understanding the pros and cons of different treatments may help men and their health care teams make more informed treatment decisions.
The choice of treatment for prostate cancer may be influenced by the side effects of the different treatments. 

Although prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the United States, it comes with a relatively good prognosis. Most men with prostate cancer will still be alive 15 years after their diagnosis.

Currently, men with prostate cancer that hasn’t spread outside the gland have several treatment choices. Because most men with prostate cancer are expected to live a long time, weighing the long-term side effects of different treatments is important. Side effects can include bladder and bowel problems, and difficulty with sexual functioning.

Men with prostate cancer at low risk of spreading may undergo surgery to remove the whole prostate or radiation therapy. Some may instead choose active surveillance: observing the cancer over time with imaging and tissue biopsies, and only starting treatment if it grows. Men with cancer at higher risk of spreading may have surgery, or radiation plus therapy to suppress hormones that fuel prostate cancer growth.

Studies have shown that how long men live is similar regardless of the chosen treatment. Whether the long-term side effects differ substantially between these treatments hasn’t been clear.

All the men were treated for prostate cancer between 2011-2012 and followed for side effects for 10 years after treatment. The results were published on January 23, 2024, in JAMA.

As seen previously, survival rates were similar between men in the two groups, regardless of treatment received. Overall, 0.4% of men with low-risk cancer and 5% of men with high-risk cancer died of their disease over the following 10 years.

Participants reported similar levels of overall physical and mental health regardless of treatment choice. But the researchers did observe differences in some specific side effects between treatments. Men with low-risk cancer who underwent surgery were more likely to report problems with sexual functioning up to 5 years after treatment than men who had radiation or who initially chose surveillance. However, the differences between groups was no longer significant by the 10-year mark.

Among men with low-risk cancer, 14% who had surgery had trouble with leaking urine 10 years after treatment, compared with 4% of those who had radiation therapy and 10% of those who initially chose active surveillance. But 8% of men who had radiation reported serious bowel problems after 10 years compared with 3% of those who had surgery.

For men with high-risk cancer, no differences in sexual functioning were seen between surgery or radiation therapy plus hormone therapy at any time point. About a quarter of those who had surgery reported urinary leakage after 10 years, compared with 11% who had radiation therapy. Seven percent of men who had radiation plus hormone therapy reported serious bowel problems, compared with 2% to 5% of men who had surgery.

“Many men with localized prostate cancer survive for 15 years or more, with minimal differences in survival among various treatment strategies,” says Al Hussein Al Awamlh. “Given this long-time horizon and similar survival rates, the choice of treatment for patients may be influenced by the adverse effects of the treatments.””

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