The scope, presentation, and management of genitourinary complications in patients presenting with high-grade urethral complications after radiotherapy for prostate cancer
Introduction: The scope of complications arising after radiotherapy (RT) treatment for prostate cancer is under-recognized and not well-described. The objective of this study is to describe the presentation, scope, and management of genitourinary (GU) complications in patients referred for high-grade urethral complications or sphincter weakness incontinence after prostate RT.
Methods: A retrospective review was performed of patients referred to a reconstructive urologist for management of grade 4 urethral complications and sphincter weakness incontinence after prostate RT from December 2004 to December 2015. Patients’ signs, symptoms, complications, and treatments are described.
Results: A total of 120 patients were identified, with a mean age of 67.8 years; 55.8% (n=67) received external beam radiotherapy (EBRT), 38.3% (n=46) brachytherapy (BT), and 5.8% (n=7) combination RT. The mean time to first complication after RT was 57.7 months (1–219) and number of complications per patient was 5.1±2.2. The most common associated complications were urethral stenosis (n=106, 88.3%), sphincter weakness urinary incontinence (n=55, 45.8%), radiation cystitis (n=61, 50.8%), refractory storage lower urinary tract symptoms (n=106, 88.3%), GU pain (n=28, 23.3%), and prostate necrosis/abscess (n=17, 14.2%). Patients required a mean of 7.4±4.4 treatments over a 33-month period, including urethral dilation/urethrotomy (n= 93, 77.5%), urethroplasty (n=53, 44.2%), transurethral resection (n=52, 43.3%), cystolithopaxy (n=14, 11.7%), artificial urinary sphincter (n=8, 6.7%), and urinary diversion (n=8, 6.7%). Patients with RT combined with other modalities had more complications (6.2 vs. 4.2, p=0.001), higher rates of incontinence (93.8% vs. 29.5%, p=0.001), necrosis (31.3% vs. 8.0%, p=0.003), erectile dysfunction (84.4% vs. 51.1%, p=0.001), and hematuria (59.4% vs. 36.4%, p=0.04).
Conclusions: Urethral complications related to prostate RT are seldom an isolated problem and require a substantial amount of urological resources and interventions.
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