Numerous reasons may explain the development of urinary problems, with one of them being prostate cancer. The disease is developed in the prostate gland as the cells in the prostate start to grow out of control. The prostate gland is found in men’s reproductive system, below the bladder, in front of the rectum, and around the urethra. The gland is sized and shaped like a walnut, but undergoes alterations in size throughout a man’s lifetime.
Given the location of the prostate, this type of cancer affects both the urinary and reproductive systems, causing symptoms like problems passing urine, including a slow or weak urinary stream or the need to urinate more often, especially at night, blood in the urine, erectile dysfunction, pain in the hips, back (spine), chest (ribs), or other areas from cancer that has spread to bones, as well as weakness or numbness in the legs or feet, or even loss of bladder or bowel control from cancer pressing on the spinal cord.
Urinary Problems Experienced by Patients with Prostate Cancer
Patients who suffer from prostate cancer often experience urinary problems either due to the condition or to the treatment itself. “The term urinary dysfunction encompasses both urinary incontinence, which can range from some leaking to complete loss of bladder control, and irritative voiding symptoms, including increased urinary frequency, increased urinary urgency, and pain upon urination. Obstruction of the bladder by an enlarged prostate is the typical reason for these symptoms initially; however, after therapy, these symptoms are typically caused by damage to the nerves and muscles that control urinary control,” explain the Prostate Cancer Foundation.
The prostate gland surrounds the urethra, the tube that transports urine from the bladder through the penis. If the prostate pressures the urethra, patients may experience these urinary problems, such as trouble getting started (urinary hesitancy), incomplete emptying, or a weak urine stream. In addition, surgery may damage the nerves or the bladder outlet muscle, the sphincter. According to the foundation, incontinence is the primary urinary side effect of a prostatectomy surgery to remove the prostate, while about 25% of the patients reported frequent leakage or no control and the need to use absorbent pads at six months after treatment. Radiation therapy is also known to increase urinary frequency and urgency.
Management of Urinary Problems by Prostate Cancer Patients
There are numerous treatment options for patients with prostate cancer, including expectant management (watchful waiting) or active surveillance, surgery, radiation therapy, cryosurgery (cryotherapy), hormone therapy, chemotherapy, vaccine treatment, and bone-directed treatment. These are expected to ease the urinary symptoms, but there are other techniques that can help. Pelvic floor exercises, also known as Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic muscles, while patients are recommended to avoid drinking more than 2 qt (2 L) daily, alcohol drinks, coffee, tea, or soda pop, or a lot of liquids in the evening.
Patients may also benefit from scheduling urination every three or four hours while awake even if they don’t feel need to. In the cases of patients who are unable to fully empty their bladder, patients may try a technique of double voiding by relaxing for a while and urinating again. Discomfort may be reduced by making a clearer and quicker path to the bathroom, as well as by wearing clothes easier to remove like elastic waistbands or Velcro closures, and by keeping a urinal close to the bed. Other recommendations that may improve the patient’s health include quit smoking, and having a healthy diet and weight.
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