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9 January 2002
Viagra Assists Radiation Therapy Patients
by George Atkinson

Patients who suffer from erectile dysfunction after radiation therapy for prostate cancer benefit from using Viagra (sildenafil citrate), according to a new study published in the December 2001 issue of the International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology and Physics.

Prostate cancer has become the most frequent non-skin cancer among men in Western countries. Over recent years, the number of patients diagnosed with prostate cancer has increased dramatically due to routine prostate-specific antigen testing. However, erectile dysfunction following radiation therapy to treat prostate cancer is becoming quite a concern. Published rates of erectile dysfunction following external beam radiation therapy vary from 7 percent to 64 percent. New research suggests that such patients can benefit from using Viagra.

The research, conducted under the leadership of Luca Incrocci, M.D., a member of the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Daniel den Hoed Cancer Center in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, involved 60 Dutch patients who suffered from erectile dysfunction following radiation therapy for prostate cancer.

The men were aged between 56 and 79. A period of four weeks, during which information on the patients' sexual functioning was collected, was followed by a test period of 12 weeks. Half of the subjects took Viagra on demand at least once a week but not more than once a day, while the other half received a placebo. After six weeks, the patients who were initially given Viagra were put on the placebo and the patients who were on the placebo were given Viagra.

The research revealed that 55 percent of the patients had successful sexual intercourse after using Viagra compared with 18 percent in the placebo group. It further appeared from an analysis of the research results that Viagra improved erectile functions of the patients, including the ability to achieve an erection, the ability to maintain an erection and the ability to penetrate their partner. None of the patients reported serious side effects.

"We concluded that more than half of the patients who suffer from erectile dysfunction after radiation therapy for prostate cancer may have successful intercourse after using Viagra, at the same time leading to demonstrable improvements in patients' erectile functions," said Dr. Incrocci. "As long as Viagra is used according to a doctor's directions, it is a safe substance without any serious side effects."

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