Pudendal nerve injury impairs anorectal function and health related quality of life measures ≥2 years after 3D conformal radiotherapy for prostate cancer

<p><b>Purpose:</b> To compare GI symptoms, measures of generic and disease specific health related quality of life (HRQoL), anorectal and pudendal nerve function and anal sphincter morphology between (i) patients ≥2 years after 3D conformal radiotherapy (3D-CRT)±high dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy for carcinoma of the prostate and aged matched patients before radiotherapy and (ii) symptomatic and asymptomatic patients ≥2 years after 3D-CRT ± HDR brachytherapy.</p> <p><b>Material and methods:</b> Methodology included: (i) modified LENT-SOMA scales for GI symptoms, (ii) EORTC QLQ-C30 and EORTC QLQ-PR25 questionnaires for generic and disease specific HRQoL, (iii) anorectal manometry and terminal motor latency for anorectal and pudendal nerve function and (iv) endorectal ultrasound for anal sphincter morphology. GI symptoms, parameters of HRQoL, anorectal and pudendal nerve function and anal sphincter morphology were compared using Mann–Whitney’s <i>U</i>, unpaired <i>t</i> and <i>χ</i><sup>2</sup> tests.</p> <p><b>Results:</b> Impairment of HRQoL bowel symptoms in the patients ≥2 years after 3D-CRT ± HDR brachytherapy was associated with worse anorectal motor and sensory function, internal and external anal sphincter morphology and 5× greater prevalence of pudendal nerve dysfunction compared with age matched patients before radiotherapy. Symptomatic patients had worse (i) HRQoL measures including global quality of life and bowel and urinary symptom scores, (ii) rectal bleeding, fecal urgency and incontinence scores and (iii) a 2× higher prevalence of pudendal nerve dysfunction compared with asymptomatic patients.</p> <p>Rectal and anal (i) <i>V</i> 40 Gy >65%, (ii) Dmax >60 Gy, (iii) pudendal nerve Dmax >60 Gy and (iv) Anal <i>V</i> 60 Gy >40% were associated with a greater prevalence of pudendal nerve dysfunction.</p> <p><b>Conclusions:</b> 3D-CRT ± HDR brachytherapy for prostate carcinoma, impairs late functional measures including HRQoL, anorectal and pudendal nerve function. Rectal, anal and pudendal nerve radiation dose constraints are proposed for reducing the prevalence of pudendal nerve dysfunction.</p>