Erectile dysfunction (ED) is more prevalent among male childhood cancer survivors (CCSs) than in the general population, new findings suggest.

In a study of 1021 male CCSs with a median age of 31.3 years, ED was reported by 277 (29%) of the 956 men who had ED scores available from the International Index of Erectile Function questionnaire, Laura van Iersel, MD, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, and colleagues reported in JAMA Oncology. By comparison, a previous cross-sectional analysis of data from 2126 adult male participants in the 2001–2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which gathers data from a representative sample of the US general population, revealed an overall 18.4% prevalence of ED among men aged 20 years or more, according to a 2007 report in the American Journal of Medicine.

In the new study, among the 873 sexually active men, independent risk factors for ED included Hispanic or other race or ethnicity (except black race), age at the time of the study, and low testosterone levels. When both sexual active and non-sexually active men were considered together, black race was an ED risk factor.

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In addition, men with more body image dissatisfaction and low lean muscle mass were more likely to report ED, both in the sexually active and combined groups.

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“Although the results from these analyses are hypothesis generating and need validation in an independent cohort, our data support the hypothesis that ED may be a modifiable condition in CCSs,” the investigators concluded. “Clinicians should be aware that appropriate management of hypogonadism may improve impaired sexual functioning in CCSs.”


Van Iersel L, Li Z, Chemaitilly W, et al. Erectile dysfunction in male survival of childhood cancer. JAMA Oncol. 2018; published online ahead of print.