Update on erectile dysfunction in prostate cancer patients

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Purpose of review

Evolution in the management of prostate cancer includes increased attention being paid to patient quality of life after treatment, specifically with issues related to sexual function. Erectile dysfunction is one of the major concerns of patients undergoing treatment for prostate cancer. There are several recognized factors that determine the postoperative incidence of erectile difficulties, including patient age, degree of cavernosal nerve sparing during surgery, cancer stage, and associated vascular comorbidities. Early initiation of rehabilitation protocols after radical prostatectomy has been advocated to promote the speed and degree of recovery of erectile function. The aim of this communication is to review recent initiatives in erectile dysfunction restoration after prostate cancer therapy.

Recent findings

In recognition of the neurogenic basis of erectile dysfunction after radical prostatectomy, new strategies have been devised to initiate the rehabilitation process. Type 5 phosphodiesterase inhibitors, vacuum erection devices, and intracavernosal and intraurethral application of vasoactive agents have all been reported in a positive light in recent studies. Developments in cavernous nerve graft interposition procedures, perioperative neuroprotection measures, and postoperative neurotrophic treatments aim to preserve prostate cancer patients' qualities of life.


Data generated from a number of clinical investigations document that pharmacologic rehabilitation programs provide a higher rate of recovery of erectile function following radical prostatectomy. Both intracavernosal and intraurethral applications of vasoactive agents and vacuum devices can speed the recovery period for return of erectile function. Various neuroprotective and neurotrophic approaches are thought to provide integral roles for the maintenance of sexual function in men undergoing prostate cancer therapy.

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