A suspicious tingling pain first sent Robert Budd to the doctor and led to his prostate cancer diagnosis in 2006.
Two years after undergoing surgery, tests confirmed Budd’s cancer had resurfaced and he underwent 38 treatments of targeted radiation known as Tomo Therapy, which Franzese administered.
Frank Franzese, a radiation oncologist with highly rated St. Petersburg and a physician-owner of the highly rated Pinellas Park cancer center Well Spring Oncology.
But that doesn’t mean men can’t return to intimacy with their partners, he adds.
“The vast majority of men who have prostate cancer die from something else, not cancer,” Brooks says. Other doctors, like Hodge, say healthy men should definitely get screened starting at age 50 — or age 40 for African-American men and those with a family history of the disease — and that fewer die today from prostate cancer thanks to testing.
“The one thing we don’t ever want to do is be cancer sparing, when we’re trying to spare other things,” Hodge says.
To varying degrees, experts say, advancing prostate cancer and cancer treatment affects sexual function in most men, including inhibiting ejaculation, diminishing libido and causing erectile dysfunction.
Fortunately, doctors say less invasive treatments, such as nerve-sparing surgery for men with more localized cancers and targeted radiation that causes less scarring of blood vessels and nerves that play a role in achieving erections, reduce the extent of impotence and incontinence, and shorten recovery times.
That includes addressing existing erectile dysfunction, which increases with age, and focuses on helping men stay sexually active to the extent possible after the prostate cancer diagnosis.
Hodge concedes post-treatment mechanical fixes — such as medical grade vacuum erection devices that cost about 0 to 0, which insurance typically covers — leave something to be desired. But he contends that such interim measures help some patients maintain sexual health and avoid “disuse atrophy” until they can achieve erections on their own or with the help of erectile dysfunction drugs like Viagra.