October 4, 2023

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A simple way to cope with sexual dysfunction caused by prostate cancer treatment

Scientists discover a simple way to cope with sexual dysfunction caused by prostate cancer treatment


Scientists discover a simple way to cope with sexual dysfunction caused by prostate cancer treatment

Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world, which not only poses a serious threat to the lives of diagnosed patients, but also may reduce their quality of life due to treatment-related side effects.

Treatment can severely affect the patients’ quality of life due to side effects, including sexual dysfunction. However, a recent long-term clinical trial has revealed a treatment method that can address this issue.

A new study shows that supervised exercise intervention can significantly benefit prostate cancer patients with sexual dysfunction (a common treatment side effect). Exercise can not only improve sexual health outcomes, but also enhance overall physical fitness and health levels.



Scientists discover a simple way to cope with sexual dysfunction caused by prostate cancer treatment



One of the notable side effects is sexual dysfunction. However, the latest research results from a long-term clinical trial led by Edith Cowan University (ECU) showed at the American Society of Clinical Oncology Breakthrough Meeting in Japan that there is a therapy that can help patients solve this problem: exercise.

Professor Daniel Galvao, director and research leader of the ECU Exercise Medicine Research Institute (EMRI), said that nearly half of prostate cancer patients said their sexual needs were not met.

Professor Galvao said: “Sexual dysfunction is a common, distressing, and persistent side effect of prostate cancer treatment, which affects both physical and psychological aspects. Our study shows that these patients can benefit immediately from supervised exercise intervention, thereby improving their sexual health.”

Previously, EMRI’s research found that exercise helps produce an anti-cancer protein called myokine, which can even inhibit tumor growth in advanced and late-stage prostate cancer patients.

Professor Galvao said: “This is just the latest evidence that exercise should be regarded as an indispensable part of prostate cancer treatment.”


Exercise training:

The four-year study divided more than 100 prostate cancer patients into three groups. One group received supervised resistance and aerobic exercise, another group received the same exercise training but also received sexual psychological therapy. The third group received standard treatment, without any exercise or therapy components.

The result of psychological therapy was that erectile function and sexual intercourse satisfaction did not improve–however, the exercising patients reported significant improvements in both aspects.

The exercisers’ erectile function improved by 5.1 points, while the standard care group only improved by 1.0 points; the exercisers’ sexual intercourse satisfaction improved by 2.2 points, while the standard care group only improved by 0.2 points.

Compared with standard care, exercise also prevented fat mass increase, improved physical function, and enhanced upper and lower limb muscle strength.

Professor Galvao said that more research is needed to explore how exercise affects the sexual health of prostate cancer patients and other symptoms and side effects of the disease and treatment.

He said: “This study shows that exercise can have a positive impact on erectile dysfunction, which is a treatment side effect that men care most about. In a broader sense, we also know that independence, physical fitness and health are important for men’s health, and for an elderly patient group that is prone to chronic diseases; exercise programs are directly related to physical fitness and health.”


It’s time to move:

Anne Savage, CEO of the Australian Prostate Cancer Foundation, said the organization hopes to see the research results quickly translated into practice.

She said: “This study calls for action for men affected by prostate cancer and their partners, and adds weight to the recommendation that men affected by this disease should exercise regularly. Erectile function loss is a major life stress for thousands of Australian men who receive prostate cancer treatment every year. This study proves that exercise can help restore sexual function while improving overall health, and previous studies have found that exercise also helps reduce the risk of recurrence for male prostate cancer patients.”

Since 2007, the Western Australia Cancer Council has provided nearly $1.8 million in funding to Professor Galvao’s team, which was made possible by generous donations from all walks of life in Western Australia.

Melissa Ledger, director of cancer prevention and research, said it was exciting to see the study recognized internationally.

“The Western Australia Cancer Council is committed to achieving the best treatment outcomes for cancer patients and their families, so it is very important for us to support research like Professor Galvao’s that could improve and save lives,” Ms. Ledger said. “We are pleased to learn that our early support has laid the foundation for further research projects–the research results speak for themselves.”



Scientists discover a simple way to cope with sexual dysfunction caused by prostate cancer treatment

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