What is urinary incontinence, and how is it related to prostate cancer surgery?
Urinary incontinence is the loss of the ability to control urination. Urinary incontinence sometimes occurs in men who have had surgery for prostate cancer.
What is the prostate's role in urination?
When urine is emptied into the bladder from the kidneys, it is kept inside the body by a couple of valves that stay closed until your body “tells” them to open when you urinate.
Complete removal of the prostate through surgery (radical prostatectomy) can cause urine to leak because one of the valves is removed. Approximately six to eight percent of men who have had surgery to remove their prostate will develop urinary incontinence.
Fortunately, there are ways to treat incontinence caused by prostate surgery. For instance, there are medications or behavioral techniques and exercises, including Kegel exercises and biofeedback, that teach men to hold urine.
These methods help men who have mild to moderate leakage. Men who have more severe leakage problems may need another surgery.
There are two types of surgery for urinary incontinence: the urethral sling and the artificial urinary sphincter. Usually, the incontinence needs to last for at least one year after the prostatectomy before the man is considered for one of these surgeries.