For patients with prostate cancer, not only do they need to cope with having and treating the disease, many are faced with the complications that came along with it, such as nerve damage and the loss of sexual potency. Doctors are now exploring options to help patients cope, including retaining their potency and, along with it, their pride.
If a patient undergoes surgery, such as radical or robotic assisted prostatectomy, to remove the prostate, the surrounding nerves may become damaged, leading to impotence and incontinence. Nerve sparing may be a possibility depending on the stage of cancer the patient is in. If this is an option, patients need to find a surgeon who is experienced in the nerve-sparing technique to perform this procedure. However, if the size of the tumor is such that one or both of the nerve bundles also needs to be removed altogether, nerve grafting may be an option. Nerve grafts are still considered an experimental form of nerve repair, and only a few medical centers perform this procedure.
Paving the Way for Prostate Cancer Treatment
The Seattle Cancer Care Alliance is one center that has used nerve grafts after prostate cancer surgery. These Seattle surgeons usually splice ankle nerves with the ends of the nerves cut from the prostate gland immediately after a prostatectomy is performed. A successful nerve grafting procedure means the patient will see an improvement in potency within a year or twoi.
Nerve grafting continues to be studied, and clinical trials are also underway to test the efficacy of nerve reconstruction after procedures such as radical and robotic assisted prostatectomy. Talk to your doctor about all the prostate cancer treatment options available to you, and if nerve grafts may help you cope with the side effects of prostate cancer treatment.