Oncology Update

Oncology Update

Anne Katz

clinical nursing research, nursing research
ONF 2012, 39(6), 618-618. DOI: 10.1188/12.ONF.618

A large Swedish study by Carlsson et al. (2012) examined self-perceived penile shortening in 1,288 men after radical prostatectomy and compared them to 350 age-matched controls. Participants answered questions on a study-specific questionnaire. Findings confirm those of other smaller studies; 55% (n = 663 of 1,208) of those who had radical prostatectomy reported penile shortening compared to 26% (n = 85 of 329) in the control group. That reflected a relative risk of 2.1 (95% confidence interval [CI] [1.8, 2.6]). Those who reported a greater degree of erectile dysfunction also reported greater penile shortening. In addition, in a smaller subset of men (N = 395) for whom data about nerve-sparing surgery was available, 33% who had bilateral nerve sparing reported penile shortening as compared to 58% who had unilateral nerve-sparing surgery (relative risk = 1.8; 95% CI [1.1, 2.8]). Of importance was the finding that, for those with penile shortening, low-to-moderate quality of life and self-esteem were more prevalent. Limitations of the study include the lack of objective measurement of loss of length found in other studies and whether men reported on length of the flaccid or erect penis. However, the inclusion of men's perception of penile length is an important one and its link to self-esteem and quality of life is unique. Men are usually not warned about this side effect and it has practical consequences, too—men report difficulty when passing urine in public restrooms and often dribble on their clothing or shoes, compounding their loss of self-esteem.

Jump to a section


    Carlsson, S., Nilsson, A. E., Johansson, E., Nyberg, T., Akre, O., & Steineck, G. (2012). Self-perceived penile shortening after radical prostatectomy. International Journal of Impotence Research, 24, 179-184. doi:10.1038/ijir.2012.13
    Fraser Robertson, A., Windsor, P. M., & Smith, A. (2012). Evaluation of a nurse-led service for followup of patients with prostate cancer. International Journal of Urological Nursing. Advanced online publication. doi:10.111/j.1749-771X.2012.01161.x