Prostate surgery side-effect can be reduced

  • Deborah Condon

Men who must undergo surgery for cancer of the prostate may reduce their risk of developing one of the most common and distressing side-effects, if they have a healthy lifestyle, the results of a new study indicate.

According to a team of US researchers, urinary incontinence - an uncontrollable and involuntary loss of bladder control - is ‘one of the most commonly reported and distressing side effects of radical prostatectomy’, which is the removal of the prostate glands.

While previous studies have suggested that symptoms may be worse in obese men, no research has addressed the joint effects of obesity and a sedentary lifestyle. The team evaluated the association of obesity and lack of physical activity with urinary incontinence in a sample of men who had undergone radical prostatectomy.

Six weeks after surgery, 59% of men were incontinent. After 58 weeks, this figure had fallen to 22% (165 men).

The researchers found that at 58 weeks, incontinence was more prevalent in men who were obese and physically inactive. In fact, almost 60% of these were incontinent.

The study noted that physical activity may offset some of the negative consequences of being obese because the prevalence of incontinence at 58 weeks was similar in the obese and active (25% incontinent), and the non-obese and inactive (24% incontinent).

Overall, those least likely to experience incontinence were men who were not obese and were physically active. Among these, there was a 16% incontinence rate.

The researchers from the Washington School of Medicine in Missouri concluded that a man’s lifestyle before prostate cancer surgery may play an important role in his post-surgery risk of incontinence.

“Interventions aimed at increasing physical activity and decreasing weight in patients with prostate cancer may improve quality of life by offsetting the negative side effects of treatment,” they said.

Details of these findings are published in the Journal of Urology.

For more information on urinary incontinence, click here

For more information of prostate cancer, click here


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