“Inconveniences” of prostate biopsy

None of the physicians I spoke to chose to mention a recovery period for the biopsy or what they euphemistically refer to as side effects of “inconvenience”. These are not health-threatening, simply unpleasant.

It was only when I brought up a 2008 study in the journal Urology that they admitted that one month after biopsy, 41% of men experienced erectile dysfunction, and six months later, 15% did. Other side effects of “inconvenience” included diarrhea, haemorrhoids, gastrointestinal distress and blood in semen that can last for several months.

Two of the physicians sheepishly admitted that they deliberately withhold this information. As one put it, “We don’t mention these complications to patients because they might be discouraged from getting the biopsy, which is a very important procedure for the patient to have.” This is the kind of paternalism that many of us dislike from doctors and it also violates the core principle of informed consent.

Daniel Levitin, The Organized Mind

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