The use of treatments for erectile dysfunction among survivors of prostate carcinoma




The objectives of this survey were to describe the prevalence of using a treatment for erectile dysfunction (ED) among men after therapy for localized prostate carcinoma and to construct models explaining the variance in trying a treatment, treatment success, and adherence to treatment.


A postal survey was sent to 2636 men in The Cleveland Clinic Foundation's Prostate Cancer Registry who were treated initially with either definitive radiotherapy or prostatectomy for localized prostate carcinoma. The survey asked about demographic items, past and current sexual functioning, and the partner's sexual function. Men were asked about their current and intended use of medical treatments for ED. Standardized questionnaires included the Sexual Self-Schema Scale-Male Version, the International Index of Erectile Function, urinary and bowel symptom scales from the Los Angeles Prostate Cancer Index), and the Short-Form Health Survey.


The return rate was 49%. Differences between men who returned the questionnaire and men who did not respond suggest that the sample was weighted toward men who were more interested in staying active sexually. ED was a problem for 85% of men, and 59% of this group used at least 1 treatment for ED. Only 38% of men found that a medical treatment was at least somewhat helpful in improving their sex lives, however, and 30% of respondents still were using at least 1 treatment at the time of the survey. Factors that were associated with the efficacy of treatments for ED and with their continued use included having a sexual partner, younger age, choosing a treatment for prostate carcinoma that was more likely to spare some sexual function, and not having had neoadjuvant or current antiandrogen therapy. Men who tried a greater number of treatments for ED were more likely to find one that worked. Men were more likely to continue using treatments for ED that produced greater improvements in sexual function.


The success of medical treatments for men with ED among long-term survivors of prostate carcinoma is limited. Men prefer noninvasive treatments, although invasive treatments are more effective. Sexual counseling for men and their partners is recommended, because it may increase the use of medical therapies for ED. Creating more realistic expectations in both partners also may enhance treatment adherence. Cancer 2002;95:2397–407. © 2002 American Cancer Society.

DOI 10.1002/cncr.10970