What You Should Know About Prostate Cancer Treatment: Urinary Dysfunction
(Read time: 5 minutes)
This article is not intended to replace professional medical care or advice. If you have any questions or need additional information, please talk with your doctor.
Prostate cancer treatments each come with their own benefits and risks. Urinary dysfunction — along with bowel dysfunction and erectile dysfunction — is one of the more common side effects of prostate cancer treatment.1
It’s important to understand what treatments may lead to urinary dysfunction and how the prostate and bladder are anatomically connected2 in order to help make informed treatment decisions.
How are the prostate and bladder connected?
The prostate is a gland of the male reproductive and urinary systems located between the bladder and the penis and just in front of the rectum.2 The urethra — the tube that drains pee from the bladder — runs through the prostate.2
Urinary function is normally controlled by several sets of muscles: the muscles in the urethra, the internal sphincter (located where the bladder and urethra join), and the external sphincter (located below the prostate).3 These muscles act together with pelvic floor muscles to control the flow of urine in the bladder.3
How can prostate cancer treatment lead to urinary dysfunction?
Prostate cancer treatments may damage the nerves and muscles used in urinary control.1 Urinary dysfunction resulting from prostate cancer treatment can mean difficulty holding urine, feeling urgency, passing urine too frequently, or difficulty emptying the bladder fully.1,4
These symptoms are categorized into a few main types of incontinence:5–7
- Stress urinary incontinence
- Urge incontinence
- Overflow incontinence
- Mixed incontinence
When choosing between prostate cancer treatment options, it’s important to be aware of how each therapy could affect your bladder. Different prostate cancer treatments may cause different urinary side effects:
- Surgery can physically change your urinary system, which presents the possibility of damaging the nerves that help control bladder function.8
- Radiation therapy can irritate the bladder, which can make you feel you need to pee more often or creates a burning feeling when you pee. Radiation can also inflame the urethra, which affects urine flow.9
While symptoms like urinary incontinence may improve over the weeks or months following treatment, in some men they can be long-term problems.8,9
It’s important to weigh treatment option benefits and risks with your doctor.SpaceOAR™ Hydrogel is designed to help reduce prostate cancer radiation therapy side effects.10 Learn more.
Recent advances in prostate cancer treatment and rectal spacers, such as SpaceOAR™ Hydrogel, may help reduce potential side effects of prostate cancer radiation therapy.11,12 SpaceOAR Hydrogel is an absorbable polyethylene glycol (PEG) based hydrogel that works by creating a temporary space between the rectum and prostate. In a clinical study, men with SpaceOAR Hydrogel had less decline in urinary quality of life than men who didn’t receive SpaceOAR Hydrogel.12
Learn more about the side effects of prostate cancer treatment and how SpaceOAR Hydrogel could help reduce side effects from radiation and help maintain your quality of life.11
Learn more about options for urinary incontinence at FixIncontinence.com.