Alternative to removal surgery lets sufferers continue to have sex
Men with penis cancer routinely have part or all of their genitals removed by surgery to cure their disease.
Yet, an alternative treatment with brachytherapy, a type of radiotherapy, may help sufferers beat cancer and keep their penis intact. A study of more than 200 men with penis cancer found that 79 per cent of patients that opted for brachytherapy survived at least ten years after treatment.
The survival rate for those treated by surgical removal is 85 per cent, according to the American Cancer Society.
Researchers at the Gustave Roussy Cancer Campus in France studied the survival rates of 201 men, aged over 45, who opted for brachytherapy rather than surgery.
All the men were circumcised and then treated with brachytherapy, which involved inserting radioactive wires in or near the tumour.
The wires emit radiation at a low dose for several days to kill the cancer cells.
Five years after treatment the probability of surviving with the penis intact was 85 per cent.
The overall survival rate was 79 per cent and out of those that survived, 82 per cent did not get penile cancer again.
Yet, eight men (four per cent) had to have their penises removed by surgery and 18 men (13 per cent) had partial surgery after their cancer returned.
Men were more likely to suffer a recurrence of their cancer if it had started to spread to the lymph nodes in the groin.
Patients who had tumours larger than four centimetres (two inches) in diameter were also likely to get penis cancer again.
Of those treated, 13 men (six per cent) required surgical treatment for side effects, including painful ulcerations.
Study author Dr Alexandre Escande, said: ‘These results show that brachytherapy is the treatment of choice for selected patients whose cancer has not spread into the sponge-like regions of the erectile tissue in the penis – the corpus cavernosum.
‘It is effective at controlling and eradicating the cancer and allows a high number of men to preserve their penises.’
‘Another important finding was that if cancer did return, then this could often be dealt with successfully by a second round of brachytherapy or by surgery without the men being at higher risk of death from the disease.
‘This suggests that brachytherapy is an adequate upfront, organ-sparing strategy, which is usually associated with only mild to moderate toxicities.
‘Men still have a good body image, and also sexual and urinary function for the majority.’ Penile cancer is rare and affects just one in 100,000 men in developed countries, the researchers said.
The most frequent treatment is surgery to remove the glans (the tissue at the end of the penis), which has an impact on a man’s sexual and urinary functioning.
Researched by Daisy Dunne and published on The Daily Mail ~ May 15, 2017.
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