Figures suggest that as many as one in five men who undergo radical prostatectomy to remove their prostate gland subsequently experience minor long-term urinary incontinence ,
while a further five per cent have more serious problems.
Surgeons at the Indiana University (IU) School of Medicine believe that a biodegradable ‘sling’ may help to prevent this outcome and reduce the chances of male incontinence after prostate cancer surgery.
They are conducting the first study to test the approach, which provides support to the bladder neck and urethra after the prostate gland has been removed.
Around 80 patients are taking part in the study at the IU Health University Hospital and the IU Health North Hospital.
Half of patients had a ‘sling’ inserted during their robotic prostate surgery, while the remaining 50 per cent received standard care and no sling.
Participants are now being followed for a period of time to see whether or not they develop lasting urinary problems.
If found to be effective, the technique’s use could become widespread to help reduce the risk of incontinence in men with prostate cancer.
Dr Chandru Sundaram, professor of urology at the Indiana University School of Medicine, explained: “The most important concerns for patients coming in for a prostate removal are twofold: incontinence and erectile function.”
The expert added that the sling concept itself is not new, but that this is the first time it has been used to reduce the risk of male incontinence following prostate cancer surgery.