Thank you to Dr. Jeffrey Albaugh and Dr. Anne Katz for their expertise, content and guidance in putting this page together.
Prostate cancer is now the most common internal malignancy in men. The lifetime prevalence of prostate cancer is 1 in 9 men. With the more widespread use of the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test for prostate cancer screening, 60% of all prostate cancers are discovered while still localized. Many urologists recommend radical prostatectomy (removal of the prostate gland and lymph nodes) as the treatment of choice for their patients who are younger and in good health and have localized cancer. Another common treatment option is radiation. One of the major side effects of either treatment can be urine leakage (incontinence).
Although urine leakage is temporary for many men after removal of the prostate gland for prostate cancer, persistent leakage is not uncommon. Patient surveys have shown a 39-63% prevalence one year after surgery, with 24-56% of patients wearing incontinence pads. The incidence depends in part on the expertise of the surgeon; more experienced surgeons have much lower rates. This persistent leakage can have significant medical, psychological, social, and economic consequences. Many men have said that incontinence was the most burdensome part of their experience with prostate cancer treatment.
There are non-surgical treatments available that have proven effective for many men with leakage after prostate surgery:
- Pelvic Muscle Exercises – done properly, these strengthen the muscles that help prevent urine loss. They are most helpful in men with small amounts of leakage. How to perform Pelvic Muscle exercises (also known as Kegel exercises)
- Bladder Control Techniques – training to use muscles to help prevent leakage during coughing, sneezing or physical activity. Training can also be done to learn to reduce urgency, so men can make it to the bathroom in time.
- Biofeedback – training techniques in which muscle and bladder activity can be monitored and displayed on a screen so that men can learn to accurately control their pelvic muscles and reduce leakage.
- Electrical Stimulation – home or office treatments in which low electrical current is used to help strengthen the pelvic muscles and make the bladder less irritable.
- Medications – taken every day, these help reduce urgency and urge-related leakage, but are not helpful for leakage with coughing, sneezing, or physical activity.
- When planning to go home after surgery, bring a pair of Jockey-type underwear (not boxers) and incontinence pads. After the catheter is removed post surgery, patients may be unable to prevent urine from leaking. This is normal, and may occur for a variable period of time. Most men improve significantly by 1-2 months although it can take up to one year.
- After surgery, stress incontinence is quite common. Urinary leakage occurs when getting out of a car, standing up from a chair, or coughing or sneezing. Again, this is normal.
- Stay away from caffeine.
- Emptying your bladder before it is completely full can minimize the leakage.
- Talk with your doctor about your level of leakage, and to learn more about the non-surgical treatment options listed above.
DEPRESSION & ANXIETY
The presence ED and incontinence can cause both or either partner to develop depression or anxiety. Men who suffer from mild-to-severe depression or anxiety may find their quality of life effected or their immune systems compromised as a result. It’s important to recognize the causes and symptoms of depression and anxiety so they can be effectively addressed. You can learn more about how to address the psychological and emotional toll of prostate cancer as well as access numerous resources on our page, Anxiety and Depression as Related to Prostate Cancer.
Incontinence – Helpful Resources:
- IN CONTROL: The Facts About Male Urinary Incontinence – Options for Coping Strategies & Treatments
- Hope Recovery Support – Insights to Help You Live Life Restored after Prostate Cancer Surgery
- Prostate Cancer & Incontinence: Coping Strategies & Treatment Options
- Urinary Incontinence in Men – information from The National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC), part of the National Institutes of Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
CONNECT WITH OTHERS
Prostate Cancer Support Groups
Prostate cancer survivors who attend meetings—sometimes along with spouses/partners—find invaluable information and perspective from their peers who quite often have "been there – done that" relative to their experience managing the various aspects of prostate cancer. The interactive format of a support group meeting is an educational forum that facilitates conversations to exchange information among group members assembled with the common goal of empowering each other with the knowledge that comes from experience. Find an Us TOO support group meeting near you.
Conference Calls for Women – A Forum for Her…
This phone call support group is for the women behind the men affected by prostate cancer. Because prostate cancer is a couple's disease, the woman is often subject to her own concerns in addition to those she shares with her partner. A Forum for Her will focus on women and offer peer-to-peer support to address these concerns. Get more information or join a call by contacting Terri Likowski at 336-842-3578 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Conference Calls for Prostate Cancer Survivors and Caregivers
Answer Cancer Foundation and the Reluctant Brotherhood
Prostate Cancer Virtual Support Group Calls
Using your computer, tablet or smartphone: Click here or paste the link below into your browser:
Using your phone:
Low/ Intermediate Risk Men & Caregivers
2nd & 4th Mondays of every month at 8pm EST/EDT (US)
High Risk/Recurrent/Advanced Men and Caregivers
1st & 3rd Mondays of every month at 8pm EST/EDT (US)
2nd & 4th Tuesdays of every month at 6pm EST/EDT (US)
Answer Cancer Plenary Calls Men & Caregivers
5th Mondays of every month at 8pm EST/EDT (US)
Answer Cancer – Caregivers
1st Tuesdays at 7pm EST/EDT (US)
3rd Tuesdays at 1pm EST/EDT (US)
The Reluctant Brotherhood
The Inner Conversation – Men Only
2nd & 4th Thursdays at 8pm EST/EDT (US)
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If you know of a resource that should be added to this page, or if you need help with issues related to prostate cancer, please call 800-808-7866 or email email@example.com.