Australian and Canadian researchers have published a study that suggests that gay men have better rates of prostate cancer detection than their heterosexual counterparts, but may be having surgery earlier than what is necessary as a result.
Researchers from the University of British Columbia, Canada and the Australian Research Center in Sex, Health and Society at La Trobe University in Melbourne published their results in the journal Urology.
Researchers followed two groups of men, one group that was heterosexual identifying and the other comprised of men who have sex with men for a few years after treatment for prostate cancer.
The average age of diagnosis was 57 and there were no significant differences in the treatment the men received or the side effects of the treatments.
However men who had sex with men had cancers diagnoses that were significantly lower risk and had much greater problems in coping with the consequences of having their prostates surgically removed.
‘The display of ejaculation carries great meaning to men who have sex with other men, as a definitive sign of sexual gratification,’ the researchers found.
‘In addition, in recent years, ejaculation has taken on a new meaning in the context of the HIV epidemic.
‘Non-heterosexual men might focus on ejaculation for pleasure and disease prevention in a more deliberate and conscious way. The loss of ejaculation might be more bothersome as a result.’
Of the more than 500 men who received treatment, 79 percent believed they had continuing sex lives although 61 percent reported almost never achieving erection.
Of those who attempted penetration 38 percent reported being never or almost never satisfied with their ability to orgasm.
Only around one-in-five of the men reported being able to achieve an erection but many of the men reported participation in non-erectile acts such as masturbation and oral sex with partners.
Prostate cancers are ranked in risk using a Gleason Score, with 6 being at the low end of risk and 10 being the high end and most men who had sex with men in the study were diagnosed at around 6.
The researchers noted ‘growing evidence that few patients benefit from aggressive treatments when they have a Gleason score of 6.25’ and raised concerns that gay and bisexual men might be undergoing treatment earlier than was necessary.