Side Effects

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After Treatment of Prostate Cancer: Knowing and Managing Side Effects


Incontinence is a very common side effect of surgery to remove the prostate and radiation therapy. It may be temporary or long term. There are four types of incontinence.

  1. Stress incontinence. Men that experience this type of incontinence experience a leak of urine when they sneeze, exercise, laugh, or cough. This is the most common type.
  2. Overflow incontinence. Men that experience this type of incontinence experience a long time to urinate.
  3. Urge incontinence. Men that experience this type of incontinence experience a sudden need to urinate.
  4. Continuous incontinence. Men that experience this type of rare incontinence lose all ability to control their urine.

Bowel Problems

Men that receive radiation treatment may experience bowel problems during and after treatment. These problems are caused mainly by external beam radiation.

  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Loss of control of bowel movements
  • Bleeding


Erectile dysfunction (ED) may occur short-term or permanent in men that have surgery, hormone therapy, or radiation therapy.

Patients may consider the following options to help manage impotence:

  • Medications: slidenafil, vardenafil, tadalafil
  • VCD: a vacuum constriction device placed over penis to create suction
  • Medication: Alprostadil is a medication injected into the skin and the base of the penis before sex in the form of a pellet
  • Protehsis: an artificial implant surgically placed into the penis


Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery may cause permanent or temporary infertility in men. Talk with your doctor about the possible side-effects of your treatment and the option of preserving fertility.

Hormonal Changing

Many men treated with hormones to fight cancer often experience side effects such as:

  • hot flashes
  • growth of breast tissue
  • depression
  • weight gain
  • loss of muscle
  • osteopenia
  • anemia

Chemotherapy Side Effects

Chemotherapy is an intensive treatment plan that causes many side-effects.

  • fatigue
  • diarrhea
  • nausea and vomiting
  • pain
  • hair loss
  • appetite loss

Many of these side effects dissipate after treatment is completed.

Always speak with a doctor to learn more about the risk of side effects before starting treatment. It may be embarrassing to talk about these side effects, but talking about it can help patients live with the side effects.