A leading doctor has accused the NHS of “medical sexism” for refusing men life-changing surgery for a condition that is thought to affect one in 100 men.
But only 400 men a year are being given a simple £4,500 treatment for Peyronie’s Disease (bent penis) on the NHS while women are routinely offered comparable treatments, professionals say.
A postcode lottery means that men in some areas are 33 times more likely to be treated for the condition which is often suffered by men with prostate cancer who have a 66% chance of suffering erection problems after surgery.
Peyronie’s Disease is a non-cancerous lump that develops in the penis and in the worst cases causes so much pain, bending of the penis and emotional distress that sex becomes impossible.
The devastating impact of erectile dysfunction can be resolved with the help of a penile implant and experts areparticularly concerned about the lack of availability of the device for men with prostate cancer.
Almost half of the 16,000 men having a radical prostectomy each year, where they undergo surgery to remove the prostate gland, will be left with impotence problems according to an article in the Daily Mail.
This is because the nerves and blood vessels which supply the penis are situated right next to the prostate and often get torn, stretched or cut during surgery.
A recent survey by the Department of Health revealed that two in three prostate cancer survivors say they are unable to have and maintain an erection.
Doctors say the situation is unfair and is a clear case of ‘medical sexism’ by the NHS.
Rowland Rees, a consultant urological surgeon in Hampshire, told the Daily Mail:
“Many men with erectile dysfunction are in their 50s and 60s and want to have a sex life. Restoring sexual function is an issue that’s often brushed under the carpet. This doesn’t have to be the case, and is not the experience of men in other parts of the world.
“It seems very unfair that men do not have automatic access to treatments to rectify problems caused by cancer therapies when women with breast cancer who have a mastectomy are routinely offered reconstructive surgery on the NHS.
“We need a fairer approach which allows patients who have cancer treatments to have access to this very successful device if they meet certain criteria, such as if they are young, have a partner or want to be sexually active.”
Dr Gordon Muir, a consultant urologist at King’s College Hospital and the Lister Hospital, London, told the Mail:
“It seems perverse that women having breast cancer treatment can — rightly — have complex reconstructions on the NHS when a fundamental part of a male cancer patient’s identity can be ignored.
“Penile prostheses have a very high success rate, and treatment of erectile dysfunction shows fantastic quality of life benefits for men and their partners. This is a clear case of medical sexism.
“It is very difficult as a doctor when a man turns up to your clinic and asks: ‘Why can’t I have this done?’
“We should be saying to men: “You have cancer in the prostate, you may experience these problems as a result of treatment and we can fix them.”
“The same is true for men with erectile dysfunction problems caused by other conditions.”
Responding to the article in the Daily Mail the editor of the Peyronie’s UK blog said:
“There really doesn’t seem to be a plan when it comes to dealing with men’s sexual health here in the UK. Taking the prostatectomy issue alone, there are ways in which potential peyronie’s disease scarring and impotence can be reduced off the bat.
“The medical professional needs to be far more pro active and up to speed to help patients get on top of their situation before it even becomes a problem. Beyond that, surely there should be a structure of place to support men, both physically and psychologically, instead of leaving them in the cold at such a distressing and embarrassing time.”