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What are the side effects of prostate cancer treatment?

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Quick Answer

Side effects of two of the most common treatments for prostate cancer, surgery and radiation therapy, include urinary leakage and increased bowel urgency, according to The American Cancer Society. Many men also report sexual side effects, such as erectile dysfunction.

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When a man first begins radiation therapy, his skin may become red, swollen, sensitive or warm to the touch in a similar manner to a mild sunburn, according to WebMD. Additionally, his skin may darken or may peel and become moist and tender. A man may also notice hair loss at the site of treatment. Most of these side effects are temporary and subside around six weeks after completing the required treatment plan. Long-term side effects, which may last up to a year after treatment, include larger pores and increased skin sensitivity.

Common side effects of chemotherapy include significant fatigue, usually in the first week of treatment, diarrhea, hair loss, loss of appetite, shortness of breath and fluid retention, as stated by Prostate Cancer Foundation. Additionally, some patients experience abdominal pain, nail changes, reduced heart function, and numbness and weakness in the hands or toes. Chemotherapy patients sometimes need blood transfusions to boost red blood cells and reduce fatigue due to a low blood cell count.

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