Taking the erectile
dysfunction drug Cialis while receiving radiation
therapy for prostate
cancer doesn't seem to help men's sexual function after treatment, a new
About 40% of men undergoing radiation therapy for prostate cancer suffer
dysfunction afterward, according to the study. The researchers wanted to
find out whether impotence could be prevented by having patients take Cialis
(tadalafil) during the course of treatment.
But there was very little difference in outcome when Cialis was compared to
a placebo pill.
No indication for radiotherapy
"There is no indication to use Cialis in men about to undergo radiotherapy
for prostate cancer," said lead researcher Dr Thomas Pisansky, a professor
of radiation oncology at the Mayo Clinic.
"Cialis should be reserved for the treatment of erectile dysfunction if
and when it occurs," he added.
The report was published in the Journal of the American Medical
Association and partially funded by Eli Lilly & Co, the maker of
Cialis. The study also received funding from the US National Cancer Institute.
Dr David Samadi, chairman of urology at Lenox Hill Hospital, in New York
City, said, "Radiotherapy is the most common treatment for prostate
cancer, but erectile dysfunction is a common side effect in a large number of
This study clearly shows that there is no support for use of medications such
as Cialis, Viagra and Levitra to prevent erectile dysfunction after radiation
therapy, said Samadi, who was not involved with the research.
"All treatments come with side effects, and a good discussion with a
urologist and the radiation oncologist about those side effects, upfront, is
part of the decision-making process," Samadi said.
For the study, Pisansky's team randomly assigned 242 men with prostate
cancer to receive daily doses of Cialis or a placebo for 24 weeks, starting
when radiation therapy began.
The researchers found that at 28 and 30 weeks after the start of radiation
therapy, 79 % of those who received Cialis maintained erectile function
compared with 74 % of those who received placebo – a difference of 5%.
After a year, there was still not a significant difference between the
Cialis and placebo groups, with 72% of men who took Cialis and 71% who took the
placebo able to maintain an erection.
Moreover, Cialis was not associated with an improvement in overall sexual
function or satisfaction. Likewise, the partners of men who took Cialis saw no
significant effect on sexual satisfaction, the researchers noted.
Dr Bruce Gilbert, director of reproductive and sexual medicine at North Shore
LIJ Health System in Great Neck, New York, took issue with the study.
"We have a problem in this study. The data that they are looking at is
the patient's subjective response to whether or not their erections are good.
We don't know if the patient had real problems with erections, only what he
said about it," Gilbert said.
The real question boils down to the damage radiation therapy causes. If the
damage is to nerves, then drugs like Cialis won't work because they only affect
the blood circulation, Gilbert explained.
sexual health – more than just getting it up
"Whether you have radiation or surgery you are going to have some
impairment in your erections. When you are treating a cancer, you are treating
the cancer. The side effects can be dealt with after," he said.
Gilbert said that treatments are available. "With sexual function, we
can get most people working again," he said. "We use a variety of
medications, possibly injected medications, or other alternatives that we
Erectile dysfunction treatment
it up with a shock
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