Spotlight briefs, September 21, 2011

Posted Sept. 20, 2011, at 9:20 p.m.
Last modified Sept. 21, 2011, at 1:18 p.m.

Study: Sexual potency after prostate cancer can depend on age, weight, treatment type

CHICAGO — A new study addresses one of the most worrying questions faced by men with prostate cancer: What are my chances of losing sexual function after treatment?

The answers vary greatly by age, sexual potency before treatment, PSA levels and whether a man has surgery, standard radiation or radioactive seeds, the study found.

Using the findings, men can get a rough idea of their personal odds by answering questions that also include weight and race, experts said. Unsurprisingly, older men whose sexual function is already low have the worst chances of good sexual function after treatment.

“This will make it possible for patients to have a more realistic view of what to expect for themselves, rather than trying to guess where they fit in overall compared to the average guy with prostate cancer,” said study co-author Dr. Martin Sanda of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

The federally funded study, appearing in Wednesday’s Journal of the American Medical Association, included only men with early-stage cancers, and it didn’t address cure rates for different treatments. In the real world, some patients have limited treatment choices. For instance, only men with early-stage, slow-growing cancers can choose radioactive pellets.

Libyan civilians fleeing Gadhafi’s hometown describe state of siege, deteriorating conditions

SIRTE, Libya — Families in pickup trucks stacked with mattresses and jugs of water fled Moammar Gadhafi’s hometown of Sirte Tuesday ahead of an expected new push by revolutionary forces to seize the city, as the anti-Gadhafi forces claimed progress in the battle for a city in the remote southern desert.

A commander of new government’s forces said late Tuesday they were in control of most of the Gadhafi desert stronghold of Sabha after a day of fighting. The commander, Bashir Ahwaz, said most of the tribesmen loyal to Gadhafi fled the city instead of putting up a fight, but three of his men and 19 pro-Gadhafi tribesmen were killed.

He said it would take another week for his forces to take control of all of Libya’s southern desert and its borders with Algeria and Niger. Several groups of officials from Gadhafi’s regime, as well as one of the ousted dictator’s sons, have fled to Niger.

Earlier, residents fleeing Sirte said they had been living under a state of siege with Gadhafi’s forces preventing them from leaving, while living conditions deteriorated and the city came under constant rocket fire and NATO bombardment.

“I tried to leave earlier with my family, but Gadhafi’s forces wouldn’t let me,” said Abdullah Mohammed, a 34-year-old computer engineer traveling with his wife, two daughters and son. “We managed to run away at dawn by taking back roads out of the city.”

AP Exclusive: US, Pakistan reach deal to limit American troops there, amid ongoing discord

WASHINGTON — The United States and Pakistan have agreed to limit the number of American troops in that country, amid frayed relations between the two nations and a struggle to repair them, U.S. officials told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

The presence of U.S. forces inside Pakistan is highly unpopular there, and became more so after the U.S. military raid inside Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden.

According to U.S. and Pakistani officials, the new compromise pact slashes the number of U.S. forces allowed in Pakistan to between 100 and 150, nearly half of what it has been in the past. The number of special operations trainers would fall from 140 to fewer than 10.

Allowing any elite trainers to stay suggests a bit of a thaw in the icy relationship. Only a few months ago Pakistan demanded that all the trainers as well as other U.S. forces leave the country.

Officials described the agreement on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. And they said there could be changes to the totals over time.

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