An unrandomized prospective comparison of urinary continence, bowel symptoms and the need for further procedures in patients with and with no adjuvant radiation after radical prostatectomy


Dr T. Hofmann, Department of Urology, St. James's University Hospital, Beckett Street, Leeds LS9 7TF, UK.



To prospectively assess, using a questionnaire-based study, the relative differences and changes in urinary continence and bowel symptoms, and the need for further surgery, within the first year after radical retropubic prostatectomy (RRP) in patients with and with no adjuvant radiotherapy (aRT).


The study included 96 men with clinically organ-confined adenocarcinoma of the prostate who underwent RRP between March 1998 and June 1999. A subset of 36 patients was recommended aRT of the prostatic fossa (median dose 54 Gy) because of positive surgical margins and/or seminal vesicle involvement. Using a mailed questionnaire all patients were prospectively assessed at 4-month intervals for the first year after RRP.


Valid data were analysed from 83 patients (overall response rate 86%), of whom 30 (36%) had received aRT. At 4 months a significantly lower proportion used no pads and significantly more used 1 pad/day in the aRT than in the RRP group (both P < 0.05). Eight and 12 months after RRP there was no statistically significant difference between the groups in urinary incontinence. However, 53% of men in the aRT group had stool urgency and 13% reported fecal incontinence at 4 months, compared with 1.9% and none (both P < 0.01) of the RRP group. At 1 year after RRP bowel symptoms and fecal continence improved in the aRT group and there was no significant difference for these symptoms between the groups. Starting aRT early (≤ 12 weeks after RP) or late (> 12 weeks) had no significant effect on urinary continence, bowel symptoms and fecal incontinence. Apart from dilatation of urethral strictures in one patient in each group, no further procedures were reported during the follow-up.


A moderate dose of aRT after RRP had a temporary effect on subjective urinary continence at 4 months but not at 8 and 12 months. More patients receiving aRT reported significant bowel symptoms at 4 and 8 months than those with RRP only, but at 1 year most of these symptoms had resolved and there were no significant differences between the groups.