Urinary incontinence and cancer, is there a link? If so, what does it mean? Questions like this are not uncommon. Understanding that a relationship may exist is important. More critical, though, is recognizing the meaning of the connection and determining the “next steps” for those who are suffering.
First, do NOT panic. Incontinence is most often not a sign of cancer. That said, those affected should speak with their physicians to determine what may be causing them issues and learn how to better manage their lives.
With regard to cancer, incontinence can be both a symptom of the disease and a side-effect of the treatment. Below we have shared a bit about both situations.
Incontinence as a Symptom of Cancer
Incontinence can be associated with several types of cancer. In fact, those who suffer from cancers of the pelvic region quite often experience this frustrating condition.
Let’s first discuss ovarian cancer. Often referred to as the “silent killer”, 21,000 women are diagnosed with this disease each year; 14,000 die from it. Two of the reasons for the high mortality rate are one, women tend to ignore the warning signs and two, doctors do not always realize their importance. According to Sciencedaily.com, “Abdominal pain and urinary urgency, frequency or incontinence were the most commonly documented symptoms in women who had Stage I and II, the early stages, of ovarian cancer.”
Men also must be vigilant when suffering from incontinence. Discussing these issues with their doctors is critical as they may be at risk for prostate cancer. While early stages of the disease often have no warning signs, when the illness become more advanced, symptoms become more pronounced. In fact, The American Cancer Society shares that some of the primary ones are “problems urinating, including a slow or weak urinary stream or the need to urinate more often, especially at night”.
Additional pelvic cancers with incontinence as a symptom include, but are not limited to, bladder cancer, cervical cancer and uterine cancer. Unfortunately, other illnesses also count incontinence among their symptoms. Individuals suffering from brain or spinal cord cancers may face this as well.
Incontinence as a Side-Effect of Treatment
Those undergoing cancer treatment may also suffer from incontinence; it is among the many side-effects of therapies for this disease.
Some of the regimens that can affect the ability to control urination are discussed below. Understand that this list is not comprehensive and that reactions to treatment vary greatly by individual.
Radiation to the pelvic region, prescribed for many of the cancers discussed above, may result in incontinence as it tends to irritate the bladder. Additionally, chemotherapy can lead to hormone loss, nerve damage and excessive vomiting, all which can aggravate incontinence. Finally, surgery in this area of the body may affect the nerves and muscles which can make controlling urination difficult.
Whether your incontinence is a symptom of a more serious illness or a side-effect from treatment, learning to manage it can help make life easier to navigate. Those suffering should discuss options with their physicians. These professionals will be able to provide guidance as to the best steps to take.
At LIQUAGUARD® we provide a host of products to help make the daily experience of living with incontinence a bit easier. Visit our website to see what we offer. You can always call us and we can help to point you in the right direction; we can help identify the best products for your individual needs. As always, we understand the challenges faced by those who suffer from incontinence. We are proud of our commitment to provide them, their families and their care givers the quality products they need to live a more enjoyable life.