Unraveling the Connection: Urinary Incontinence After Prostate Cancer Treatment

Male Incontinence

Dr. Paul Chung has extensive experience in helping men who have stress urinary incontinence (SUI) after prostate cancer therapy. Here’s what you need to know. 

Understanding the Link

The prostate gland is intimately connected to the urinary system, positioned at the base of the bladder, where the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder out through the penis) begins. Any treatment aimed at removing or shrinking cancer in the prostate can potentially affect the urinary system's functioning, resulting in urinary incontinence.

  1. Surgery (Radical Prostatectomy)

In a radical prostatectomy, the surgeon removes the entire prostate gland along with some surrounding tissues to prevent cancer spread. This procedure can potentially damage the sphincter, the circular muscle that controls the flow of urine from the bladder through the urethra. If the sphincter is damaged or weakened, it may result in stress incontinence, where urine leaks when you exert pressure on your bladder by coughing, sneezing, laughing, or lifting something heavy.

  1. Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy, another common treatment for prostate cancer, involves directing high-energy rays at the prostate gland to kill cancer cells. However, this radiation can also irritate or damage the bladder and urethra, resulting in urge incontinence, where there's a sudden, intense urge to urinate, followed by an involuntary loss of urine.

Managing Urinary Incontinence After Prostate Cancer Treatment

While urinary incontinence can be an inconvenient and distressing side effect of prostate cancer treatment, there are numerous strategies available for managing it effectively. Pelvic floor exercises or Kegel exercises can strengthen the muscles that help control urination. Bladder training, which involves scheduled toileting and gradually increasing the time between urinating, can also be beneficial. Medications are available that can help relax bladder muscles or tighten the sphincter. In some cases, medical devices or surgical interventions may be recommended.

Urinary incontinence following prostate cancer treatment can pose challenges, but it's important to remember that it's a common issue faced by many men and is typically manageable. Open communication with your healthcare provider is crucial for addressing these concerns and finding a solution that best suits your needs. Remember, overcoming prostate cancer is a significant achievement, and the side effects of its treatment can be managed with the right help and support.

If you’re ready to learn more and to find out stress urinary incontinence treatments after prostate cancer threrapy, schedule an appointment with Dr. Chung. His advice and expertise is invaluable in determining whether or not this is the best treatment option for you. 

Paul H. Chung, MD Paul H. Chung, MD is Assistant Professor of Urology and Director of Reconstructive Urology at the Sidney Kimmel Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA

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