“There’s an increasing focus on making sure we’re sending the message that this is an important aspect of the survivorship experience,” she said.

Narus echoed that sentiment, saying that many men make sexual function a secondary concern and prioritize treating their disease.

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According to the American Cancer Society, 3 of 4 top cancer sites—prostate, colon/rectum, and urinary/bladder—involve the pelvis.1 Narus said that means many men are likely to experience some dysfunction and it is important to discuss sexual function throughout treatment.

“It’s not uncommon for men to come see me after treatment. They’ve survived cancer, but they’re very upset about outcomes of treatment,” Narus said, adding that the patient may not consider his long-term quality of health. “One of the key concepts in managing sexual dysfunction is the rehabilitation of erectile tissue. The cavernosal smooth muscle in the penis relaxes and becomes engorged with blood during an erection restricting venous outflow. Lack of erections can lead to fibrosis of the corporal cavernosal tissue resulting in venous leak.”


  1. American Cancer Society. Cancer facts & figures 2016http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/ content/@research/documents/document/acspc-047079.pdf. Accessed March 28, 2016.