Prostate cancer is one of the most commonly occurring cancers in males. More than 10% of cancer deaths in males are due to prostrate cancer. Bearing this in mind, it is important to diagnose this disease at an early stage. To do so, men suspected of suffering from this cancer have to undergo biopsies.
What is prostrate biopsy?
In a biopsy, a needle in stuck into the suspected area to remove tissue samples which are checked to be malignant or benign. In prostrate cancer men usually undergo three forms of biopsies
- Standard biopsy- In this biopsy, usually 10 tissue samples are taken and the men experience uneasiness in passing urine.
- Multiple biopsy- In this case, different needles are used. The more the number of needles stuck, higher are the risks of side effects.
- Saturation biopsy- In this case more than 20 tissue samples are taken. Larger the number of samples, better the chances of finding tumors. Doctors recommend this to men who had earlier tested negative for prostrate cancer but still showed the symptoms. Post the biopsy, most of these men suffered from urinary problems. They have to strain to pass urine and the frequency of urination increase in the night.
To decrease the pain, pain the doctors use periprostatic nerve block. Due to this, the nerve would temporarily loose their function. Post the use of this nerve block, 0/6 % of patients reported urinary symptoms before the test while 8 % reported it a week later, which reached to 16 % by the 12th week.
The side effects were not limited to only urinary problems, men encountered erectile dysfunction too. Men who underwent standard and saturation biopsies, only half of them reported severe erectile dysfunction which was diagnosed a week post the test. But among the men who took nerve blockers, 11-39 % of them reported erectile dysfunction. The effect was temporary and by the 12th week, the number if victims dropped to the baseline levels.
Scientists do not have the exact answer to the reason behind this but they have assumed that it could be due to the neurovascular bundle that is close to the prostrate. This neurovascular bundle comprises of nerves and blood vessels. When the needle is inserted, this bundle is continuously subjected to trauma which can make it temporarily dysfunctional.
Nerve damage and dysfunction is one of the causes of erectile dysfunction. On receiving sexual stimulation, nerves pass the message from the brain to the pelvic region so that blood circulation to the male organ for reproduction increases, blood rushes into the male organ for reproduction causing hard erection. If nerve is damages, it cannot pass on the message to the male organ for reproduction due to which erection does not take place. Thus, making the man sexually dysfunctional.
In most cases, once the effect of the nerve blocker wears off, the person may experience a normal erection after sometime. If not, it’s important to seek medical advice.
These findings show that tests for prostate cancer can cause erectile dysfunction.