Erectile dysfunction advice for male bowel cancer patients

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A study published on bmj.com shows that male bowel cancer patients have a high probability of suffering from erectile dysfunction (ED) after their treatment. Yet, in spite of this, the majority of patients do not receive sufficient information about the condition.

Medical News Today has reported that approximately 38,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with bowel cancer each year, with half of these patients surviving longer than five years after treatment. According to the study these numbers are set to increase. Lead author, professor Sue Wilson at the University of Birmingham and her team commented that men are more likely to develop bowel cancer and that many will experience ED following treatment.

Researchers conducted a series of in-depth interviews with 28 patients who had been treated for bowel cancer in the West Midlands. They established that although most of the patients experienced ED after their treatment, many remained uninformed and unprepared for the condition. The researchers also discovered that next to none of the patients received effective, adequate and affordable care for the condition.

Several patients also reported that their doctor or stoma nurse commented that ED would not matter to a patient of their age, which shows evidence of ageism amongst health professionals.

The researchers state that in comparison to prostate cancer patients, male bowel cancer patients do not routinely receive information on and treatment for ED. “The wide diversity of this patient group calls for greater coordination of care and consistent strategies to tackle unmet needs,” the researchers urge. 



Larissa Temple, a colorectal surgeon at the Sloan-Kettering Institute in New York comments in an accompanying editorial that the study would have been even more beneficial if it would have included examples of men who had been successfully treated for erectile dysfunction, so that effective systems could be identified. She continues writing that partners of bowel cancer patients also deserve analysis adding “this is probably an important component of sexual rehabilitation for men with colorectal cancer.”