If you are having surgery or radiation for the treatment of prostate cancer, it is important to understand that there will be side effects. One side effect is stress urinary incontinence (SUI). This means that you will leak urine when you cough, sneeze, laugh, strain, lift things, or move around. SUI happens because these activities increase pressure in the abdomen, which pushes on the bladder.

Urine (pee) comes out of the body through an opening called the urethra. Before cancer treatment, the urinary sphincter — which is a muscle around the urethra — can squeeze to stop urine leaking. It can squeeze the urethra shut even with added pressure on the abdomen.

After treatment, the nerves that control the sphincter may be damaged and the sphincter may be weakened. Depending on how bad the leaking is, there are many treatment options for this problem.

Zachary Klaassen, MD, MSc
Urologic Oncologist, Georgia Cancer Center, Augusta University, Augusta, GA, USA