What types of cancers and treatments can contribute to incontinence?

Most of the studies on cancer survivors that include urinary incontinence have generally focused on those with prostate cancer. However, there are other cancers or treatments that can also affect urinary incontinence.

The types of cancer that put a survivor at risk for urinary incontinence include:
  • Cancers in the pelvis such as prostate, cervix, rectum, urethra, and bladder
  • Tumors in the brain, spinal cord, or those affecting the nerves to the bladder or pelvic muscles
  • Lung or esophageal cancer because of a chronic cough
  • Breast cancer because of the drying affects of hormonal changes
Cancer treatments can also contribute to the risk for urinary incontinence in different ways such as:
  • Surgical changes to the bladder outlet such as removing the prostate.
  • Side effects of treatments such as nausea and vomiting that can contribute to stress incontinence.
  • Bladder irritation that results in urinary frequency and urgency.
  • Changes to the nerves or blood vessels that are responsible for urinary control.
  • Chemotherapy can contribute to nausea and vomiting, nerve damage, and ovarian failure with loss of hormones.
  • Hormonal therapies can cause dryness to vaginal and urethral tissues.
  • Radiation to the pelvis for bladder, prostate, cervical, or rectal cancer can cause bladder irritation and an overactive bladder (urge incontinence).
  • Bone marrow transplant with high dose chemotherapy can have side effects of vomiting and bladder cystitis.
Cancer or treatment sometimes affects the ability to walk quickly and without assistance for a time. In some cases, help may be needed because of weakness, pain, or medications. This can interfere with the ability to quickly respond to the need to urinate.

Continue Learning about Urinary Incontinence

Urinary Incontinence

Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence (UI) is the accidental release of urine, which can affect both men and women. Symptoms of UI may differ from person to person and the treatment options range from medications to surgery. Learn more from our ex...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.