People may have side effects after prostate cancer treatment that affect their quality of life. However, there are several therapies and forms of support for life after prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is the type of cancer that doctors most commonly diagnose worldwide. However, most people survive prostate cancer. Most people receive a diagnosis in an early and curable stage of the disease.

Most prostate cancer treatments produce side effects afterward. While these effects may have an impact on a person’s quality of life, support is available to help people adjust to life after prostate cancer. People may also be able to reduce the risk of prostate cancer returning or progressing.

This article discusses the side effects of prostate cancer treatment and how to lower the risk of prostate cancer returning. It also discusses what to do if the cancer returns and how to find support when living with prostate cancer.

A note about sex and gender

Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.

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People may not experience some side effects until years after treatment. Other side effects may last for some time.

Urinary problems

People who undergo some treatments, such as radiation therapy and radical prostatectomy, may have urinary problems afterward, including:

  • urinary incontinence, or leaking urine by accident
  • urinary impotence, or difficulty urinating

After prostate surgery, typical bladder function generally returns within several weeks or months. There is no way to predict which side effects a person may experience. However, older males are more likely than younger males to experience incontinence.

Erectile dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the most common sexual functioning side effect of prostate cancer treatment. Research has found that up to 85% of people may experience ED 1–17 years after treatment. Other research suggests that ED occurs in 79–88% of people who undergo radical prostatectomy and 67–72% of those who undergo radiation therapy.

Infertility and dry orgasm

Radical prostatectomy surgery is a treatment for prostate cancer that involves removing the prostate. It causes a person to stop producing semen. After this treatment, a person will experience dry orgasm, or orgasm without ejaculation.

If a person knows they will need treatment and wishes to have children, doctors may encourage them to bank sperm before the treatment begins. However, in some cases, fertility specialists may be able to surgically retrieve sperm cells from a person’s testicles.


According to a 2021 review, fatigue is a common symptom in people with prostate cancer. Fatigue is especially common in people who undergo hormone therapy. Some methods can help reduce this fatigue, including:

  • energy conservation
  • cognitive behavioral therapy
  • nutritional therapy

Doctors will ask people about any signs of side effects during follow-up appointments after treatment. Prostate cancer may return years after treatment. This is why it is important for people to keep all follow-up appointments.

People should tell healthcare professionals about any new symptoms or problems. These may be the result of the cancer returning.

Follow-up appointments can include tests and screenings such as:

  • prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood tests every 6 months for 5 years after treatment, and then yearly
  • digital rectal exams if doctors have not removed the person’s prostate
  • bone scans
  • imaging scans

After treatment, people can create a survivorship care plan with their doctor, which can include:

  • a follow-up appointment and screening schedule
  • side effects to watch for
  • when to contact a doctor
  • a health improvement plan
  • ways to lower the risk of cancer returning

People may be able to lower their risk of prostate cancer returning.

Eat a nutritious diet

A person’s outlook may improve if they consume a diet rich in:

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • whole grains

A person may also be able to improve their outlook by limiting or avoiding:

  • added sugars
  • fat
  • meat


Scientists are still researching the effect of exercise on people with prostate cancer. Some research suggests that people who regularly exercise after treatment may improve their life expectancy.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) gives the following guidelines for physical activity:

  • Adults should try to get 150–300 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per week.
  • People should limit sedentary activities such as sitting, lying down, watching television, and other screen-related activities.

Stop or avoid smoking

According to the ACS, quitting smoking has many health benefits, such as reducing the risk of cancer and the chance that cancer will return.

Seek sexual health treatment

Several sexual health treatments are available for people after prostate cancer treatment. These include treatments for ED, such as:

  • oral medication, including phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors such as Viagra and Cialis
  • intracavernous penile injections
  • vacuum erection devices
  • surgical implants

Information and support can also help people improve their sexual health after treatment. Some research suggests that a consultation with a urologist-sexologist 3 months after treatment can be beneficial to many.

If prostate cancer returns after treatment, doctors can often treat It. Follow-up treatment options depend on the location of the cancer and which treatments a person has already received.

Doctors may recommend surveillance instead of treatment. Since prostate cancer often grows slowly, it may not cause problems for years.

There are many types of support programs for people after prostate cancer treatment.

The ACS provides a 24/7 cancer support hotline at 1-800-227-2345. More resources and information are available here.

The following are some questions people frequently ask about life after prostate cancer.

What is the average life expectancy after prostate cancer?

People with low grade prostate cancer that has not spread often live for 15 years or more. From 2016 to 2020, doctors diagnosed about 70% of prostate cancer cases in the United States before they had spread.

Can you live a normal life after prostate cancer?

People may be able to live a typical life after prostate cancer. If a person has no symptoms, prostate cancer should have little or no effect on their everyday activities.

Prostate cancer treatment can cause side effects. However, people may be able to live a typical life after treatment. Treatments, support resources, and medications can help reduce cancer’s impact on a person’s quality of life.

People can also try several lifestyle strategies to reduce the risk of prostate cancer returning, such as following a healthy and balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and quitting smoking, if applicable.

A person should speak with their healthcare professional about what they can expect from life after prostate cancer.