Common Side Effects of Prostate Cancer Treatment


According to the American Cancer Society, one in eight men will receive a prostate cancer diagnosis during their lifetime. It’s the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in American men, but most men who receive a diagnosis won’t die from it. Prostate cancer is treatable, with various treatment options available like surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy. However, some of these treatment types can result in some of the following side effects.

Bowel Problems

Radiation therapy is one of the most common treatment options for prostate cancer, and it can sometimes result in changes to your normal bowel functions. Many men purchase flushable wipes and other similar convenient products to help make symptoms like diarrhea and bowel incontinence much easier to bear.

When you have wipes you can flush, you may be able to enjoy relief from discomfort caused by continuous wiping with toilet paper. Some wipes are even available with aloe vera and vitamin E for discreet relief from itching, burning, and irritation.

Erectile Dysfunction

Over 30 million men in the United States experience erectile dysfunction, which can be caused by many factors like weight, lifestyle, and health conditions. Prostate cancer treatment can also be a cause due to nerve damage around the prostate.

Sometimes, anxiety around treatment can lead to loss of libido, which may exacerbate a man’s ability to experience and keep an erection. Many men regain their libido and healthy erections in the weeks after prostate cancer treatment, but it can also be a long-term problem for some.

While radiation therapy is one of the most common causes of ED post-cancer treatment, hormone therapy may also lead to ED. Hormone treatments may cause a loss of libido due to a reduction in testosterone.

Urinary Issues

If you underwent surgery for prostate cancer, you might find yourself experiencing urinary issues, which are common with this treatment type. Post-surgery, many men experience incontinence and leaking urine with sudden movements like sneezes and coughs.

Surgery and radiation may also lead to your bladder feeling like it’s not empty and a slowed urine stream. Some people even experience blood in their urine, but this symptom should be investigated by a healthcare professional to rule out other potential causes.

You may be able to reduce the risk of incontinence after prostate cancer treatment by performing pelvic floor exercises. Healthcare professionals may then recommend artificial urinary sphincters and other surgical options.


Prostate cancer is more common in older men, with six in 10 cases diagnosed in men aged 65 or older. It is rare for men under 40 to have prostate cancer. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t.

If you’re a young man who has received a prostate cancer diagnosis before you’ve started a family, your doctor may discuss the risks that prostate cancer treatments can pose to your fertility.

While most treatment options come with that fertility risk, you may be able to look at options like sperm banking to improve your chances of fathering children in the future.

Side effects of prostate cancer treatment can be hard to deal with, but they can be necessary if the cause of them can save your life. Fortunately, you can do a few things to make those symptoms easier to manage, such as soothing wipes, pelvic floor exercises, and even further surgery.


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