Friday, October 16, 2009

Ask for surgeons' track record with ED and incontinence

Media blogger Jeff Jarvis has written a detailed and insightful piece about the aftermath of his prostatectomy -- "Small c: the penis post."

Warning readers that this might qualify as too much information, Jarvis goes into some of the specifics of incontinence and erectile dysfunction.

Those are two big problems for men who undergo prostate surgery or radiation treatments. It seems we're so intent of getting rid of this cancer -- be it slow or fast growing -- that we don't worry about the side-effects until after we start to heal and things ain't what they used to be.

Everything I read leading up to my surgery suggested that patients should find out the doctor's success rate at curing the cancer. In a recent report on minimally invasive surgery, a researcher suggested that patients who choose the da Vinci robotic method ask the surgeon how many he's performed. Apparently the success rate improves with "hands-on" experience.

While those are good ideas, something else patients should ask is the surgeon's success rate regarding incontinence and erectile dysfunction following the operation.

Based on experiences of men in a prostate support group I joined, too few surgeons pay much attention to those statistics for their patients.

They should. Removing the cancer is only half the battle. Ensuring the prostate cancer survivors can live full lives is an important part of the cancer cure.

If your surgeon doesn't seem to know how his patients fared with incontinence and ED after the surgery, it's time to start looking for a new surgeon.

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