Risk of erectile dysfunction after modern radiotherapy for intact prostate cancer



Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a prevalent side effect of prostate cancer treatment. We hypothesized that the previously reported rates of ED may have improved with the advent of modern technology. The purpose of this project was to evaluate modern external beam radiotherapy and brachytherapy techniques to determine the incidence of radiotherapy (RT) induced ED.


A systematic review of the literature published between January 2002 and December 2018 was performed to obtain patient reported rates of ED after definitive external beam radiotherapy, ultrafractionated stereotactic radiotherapy, and brachytherapy (BT) to the prostate in men who were potent prior to RT. Univariate and multivariate analyses of radiation dose, treatment strategy, and length of follow-up were analyzed to ascertain their relationship with RT-induced ED.


Of 890 articles reviewed, 24 met inclusion criteria, providing data from 2714 patients. Diminished erectile function status post RT was common and similar across all studies. The median increase in men reporting ED was 17%, 26%, 23%, and 23%, 3DCRT, IMRT, low dose rate BT, and SBRT, respectively, at 2-year median follow-up.


ED is a common side effect of RT. Risk of post-RT ED is similar for both LDR brachytherapy and external beam RT with advanced prostate targeting and penile-bulb sparing techniques utilized in modern RT techniques.

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Fig. 1: PRISMA diagram of systematic identification and review of articles.
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This work was funded by a grant from the Josiah Charles Trent Memorial Foundation Endowment Fund.

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Correspondence to Bridget F. Koontz.

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Hunt, A.A., Choudhury, K.R., Nukala, V. et al. Risk of erectile dysfunction after modern radiotherapy for intact prostate cancer. Prostate Cancer Prostatic Dis (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41391-020-0247-x

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