PITTSBURGH, Nov. 2, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Men battling prostate cancer who receive Image Guided Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy after undergoing prostatectomy have an excellent chance of retaining sexual function, according to a study by Allegheny General Hospital (AGH) cancer specialists presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiation and Oncology in San Diego.

Each year in the United States about 200,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer. It is the second most common cancer among men, second only to skin cancer.  Most men with prostate cancer are over age 65, and the disease disproportionately strikes African-American men.

"Any cancer diagnosis can impact quality of life, but a prostate cancer diagnosis can be particularly difficult for men because impotence is a common side effect of treatment," said Russell Fuhrer, MD. "While recent improvements have made loss of potency less common after prostate cancer therapy, men must still take this complication into account as they decide on a treatment plan."

The AGH study, "Preservation of Sexual Function After High-Dose Post Prostatectomy Image Guided Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)," looked at 33 patients who underwent prostate removal surgery using open or robotic nerve-sparing techniques, followed by Image Guided IMRT radiotherapy.

Image Guided IMRT is an advanced type of radiotherapy in which computer-controlled linear accelerators direct radiation precisely to the tumor, sparing surrounding healthy tissues. Used extensively to treat prostate cancer, Image guided IMRT allows a higher, more focused and effective dose of radiation to the tumor.

Before radiotherapy, the men assessed their sexual function using a self-administered questionnaire called SHIM, Sexual Health Inventory for Men. For men who qualified as potent, researchers again used the SHIM test to measure their potency after radiotherapy

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