Prostate Cancer and Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence, or the loss of the ability to control urination, is common in men who have had surgery or radiation for prostate cancer. You should prepare for this possibility and understand that, for a while, at least, urinary incontinence may complicate your life.

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Most prostate cancers are slow growing, but some grow more quickly and spread or metastasize to other parts of the body. If unchecked, these spreading cancers can be fatal. Prostate cancer can be treated successfully, particularly if it is discovered early. Most men with this disease are living testimony to this.

Managing incontinence can make post operative recovery more comfortable.

Because prostate cancer usually grows slowly, immediate action to treat it usually isn't necessary. Many men take as long as a number of months to decide what to do. Decision making about treating prostate cancer can be complicated. The treatments chosen can profoundly affect your life. You need to be fully informed about the pros and cons of the various treatments, to get second opinions, and to decide what is best for you, all of which may take time.

Prostate Cancer Basics: Facts

  • Prostate cancer is the most common malignancy (other than skin cancer) diagnosed in men.
  • These statistics show that prostate cancer is a widely variable disease.
  • Prostate cancer has the potential to grow and spread quickly, but for most men, it is a relatively slow growing disease.
  • It is important for patients to discuss with their doctors the various aspects of their particular type of prostate cancer to understand how aggressive it is and how best to treat it.

Why Do Prostate Cancer Treatments Cause Urinary Incontinence?

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It helps to know a bit about how the bladder holds urine. When urine is emptied into the bladder from the kidneys, it is stored inside the bladder until you have the urge to urinate. The bladder is a hollow, muscular, balloon-shaped organ. Urine flows out of the bladder, and leaves the body through a tube called the urethra. Urination happens when the muscles in the wall of the bladder contract, forcing urine out of the bladder. At the same time, muscles that surround the urethra relax and allow the flow of urine. The prostate gland surrounds the urethra. Because an enlarged prostate gland can obstruct the urethra, it can cause urination retention or a weakening of your control over your ability to hold your bladder.

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Prostate Cancer: Urinary Incontinence Treatments and Prevention

Pelvic floor exercises. Many doctors prefer to start with behavioral techniques that train men to control their ability to hold in their urine. Kegel exercises strengthen the muscles you squeeze when trying to stop urinating mid-stream. These exercises can be combined with biofeedback programs that help you train these muscles even better.

Supportive care. This treatment includes behavior modification, such as drinking fewer fluids, avoiding caffeine, alcohol, or spicy foods, and not drinking before bedtime. People are encouraged to urinate regularly and not wait until the last moment possible before doing so. Managing incontinence can make post operative recovery more comfortable. As you retrain your bladder and recover from surgery, finding the right incontinence product is crucial.

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