Urinary Problems and Prostate Cancer
Both prostate cancer and its treatment may cause urinary problems.
Urinary problems caused by prostate cancer
The urethra—the tube that carries urine from your bladder and through your penis—passes through the middle of the prostate gland. When the prostate presses against the urethra, you can have trouble passing urine. This could include trouble getting started (urinary hesitancy), incomplete emptying, or a weak urine stream. Sometimes, a urinary problem is caused by a prostate cancer tumor that is pressing on the urethra. Most often, it is because of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which is not cancer but does make the prostate grow larger.
If you have urinary symptoms, see your doctor to find out the cause. It may be cancer, or it may not. If it is cancer, removing the cancer usually relieves the pressure on the urethra. If prostate removal is not possible, surgery to relieve the pressure on the urethra (TURP) may be done.
Urinary problems caused by treatment for prostate cancer
Because the prostate surrounds the urethra and is right next to the bladder, surgery to remove the prostate and its cancer may damage nerves or the bladder outlet muscle (sphincter). This weakens support for the lower bladder, and stress incontinence may develop. Radiation therapy can cause increased urinary frequency and urgency. It may also cause narrowing of the urethra, which makes urination difficult.
Some men will have incontinence following surgery or radiation for prostate cancer. This usually improves and in some cases resolves completely in 6 to 12 months. If you do not recover your control over urination in the first few months or year after treatment, additional treatment for incontinence may help.
Chronic incontinence is long-term difficulty controlling urine. Treatment is based on the type of incontinence and how much it affects your life. For more information, see the topic Urinary Incontinence in Men.
Home treatment for urinary incontinence includes the following:
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