Prostate Cancer

Urinary incontinence

Short-term urinary incontinence is very common after radical prostatectomy:

“About 2 out of every 10 men (20%) will have minor problems with urinary incontinence. About 1 in 20 men (5%) will have more severe problems with urinary incontinence after this type of surgery. For many men the incontinence is temporary and does not last longer than 6 months.” - Cancer Research UK March 2015.

Newer surgical procedures and treatments such as Robot- assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomy, and HIFU are reported to cause less erectile dysfunction and incontinence than radical surgery. Occasionally urinary incontinence follows other treatments such as radiotherapy or transurethral resection. Some of the men interviewed who had had a radical prostatectomy described the practical problems that they had encountered after their surgery. Also, men who had been treated with brachytherapy described their urinary symptoms after treatment.

Men who suffer from incontinence have various options, including special pelvic floor exercises, pads, catheters, urinary sheaths, medical therapies and surgical intervention. Surgery includes the ‘male sling’ and the artificial urinary sphincter. The insertion of an artificial urinary sphincter is an established operation with high patient satisfaction. During this operation an inflatable cuff is placed around the urethra and a pump is inserted (usually situated in the scrotum). Once the artificial sphincter is in place, a man can use the pump to empty (deflate) and fill (inflate) the cuff. Squeezing the pump moves fluid from the cuff to the balloon. When the cuff is empty, the urethra opens so that a man can urinate. The cuff will re-inflate on its own. Surgical intervention is usually considered 1-2 years after prostatectomy.

Last reviewed March 2015
Last updated March 2015.


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