Background: Treatment for localized prostate cancer (PCa) can cause long-term changes in erectile functioning. However, data on the importance of sexuality and possible consequences of altered erectile functioning on selfesteem in men with localized PCa are lacking.
Methods: Self-report questionnaires were completed by 292 men with PCa, initially managed with active surveillance (AS) or radical prostatectomy (RP). Independent t-tests were conducted to evaluate group differences. A sequential multiple regression model was fitted to analyze the associations between the importance of sexuality, changes in erectile functioning and impairment of self-esteem. Interaction effects were tested using simple slope analyses.
Results: Participants were 70 ± 7.2 years old and 66.5% rated sex as being “rather/very important”. The two groups differed markedly in changes in erectile functioning, importance of sexuality and impairment of selfesteem (p < .001), with higher values in RP patients. Regression analysis showed that after adjustment for control variables and importance of sexuality, changes in erectile functioning were still associated with impairment of selfesteem (B = .668, SE = .069, p < .001). The interaction of changes in erectile functioning and importance of sexuality reached significance (B = .318, SE = .062, p < .001).
Conclusions: RP patients report more changes in erectile functioning than AS patients. Moreover, in men with localized PCa, erectile functioning and self-esteem are closely related. Sexuality seems to be important for the majority of these men. Physicians should address the possibility of erectile dysfunction and its potential effects on psychological well-being before the treatment decision.