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Urinary incontinence after prostate cancer treatment

Posted Oct 04 2011 3:22pm
Incontinence Products for Men

Issue Codes Incontinence Products for Men

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in the UK, affecting around 37,000 men every year. Approximately one in ten men will develop prostate cancer at some point during their lifetime, with the majority of cases occurring in men over the age of 75. The good news is that the majority of patients live for at least five years after their diagnosis and many do not even need treatment if their tumour is growing slowly. Treatment for those with faster growing tumours can also be effective. However, some men experience complications such as urinary incontinence after receiving treatment, which can have a negative impact on their quality of life.

What is the prostate?
The prostate is a walnut-sized gland located beneath the bladder in men. It surrounds the urethra – the tube through which urine and semen pass – and is responsible for producing some of the fluid in semen. The prostate often gets bigger as men get older – a condition known as prostate enlargement that affects around one-third of men over the age of 50. Another condition that can affect men is prostatitis, which occurs when the tissues of the gland become inflamed, causing pelvic and testicular pain. The third main condition that can affect the gland is prostate cancer, which is discussed below.

Prostate cancer – signs and symptoms
Prostate cancer accounts for one in four cancer diagnoses in England and Wales, according to NHS figures. The causes of the disease are largely unknown, but older men, those with a family history of the disease and men of black African and Caribbean descent are known to be more at risk.

Men should ensure they are aware of the possible symptoms of prostate cancer, as early diagnosis can have a significant impact on the effectiveness of treatment. According to Cancer Research UK, symptoms include an urgent need to urinate; difficulty in passing urine; and frequent visits to the toilet, particularly at night. Occasionally men may also experience pain when passing urine or blood in their urine or semen. All of these symptoms can also be symptoms of an enlarged, non-cancerous prostate, but men should visit their GP for tests.

Treatments for prostate cancer
The most appropriate treatment will depend on whether or not the cancer has spread from the prostate gland to other parts of the body. Some men opt to have radiotherapy, while others may be eligible for surgery to remove the gland. The different treatment options have both advantages and disadvantages and each patient’s choice of treatment will usually take the possible side-effects into account. For instance, radiotherapy can cause bowel and urinary problems, tiredness, skin irritation, sexual problems and infertility, while surgery – known as radical prostatectomy – can also cause urinary incontinence and other side-effects.

Urinary incontinence following prostate cancer treatment
Urinary problems are unfortunately not uncommon after treatment for prostate cancer. Many men experience urinary incontinence and the need to pass urine regularly at night after undergoing radiotherapy or surgery. This male incontinence is often temporary and can be managed effectively using incontinence supplies until the problem resolves itself. However, about 20 per cent of men who undergo radical prostatectomy to remove their prostate gland experience minor long-term urinary incontinence, while five per cent have more serious long-term male incontinence.

Managing male incontinence
Incontinence can greatly affect an individual’s quality of life, causing embarrassment, a reluctance to socialise and even depression. However, there are many products that can reduce the condition’s impact on a day-to-day basis and help men to maintain an active and sociable lifestyle.

For instance, Men’s Pull-up Incontinence Pants , such as Lil Pants Maxi , can be worn just like normal underwear, while those with light to moderate male incontinence may prefer to use Tena Men incontinence pads, which can be used with their own underwear. Items can also be purchased to protect bedding against night-time leakage, such as a PVC Washable Mattress Cover .

Men may also benefit from maintaining a healthy weight and performing pelvic floor treatments to strengthen the muscles in their pelvic floor, while certain medications can increase bladder capacity and reduce urinary leakage.

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