HOW CAN GENETIC TESTING HELP TREATMENT?
As a health care tool, genetic test results may help determine if a certain treatment would be helpful. Your doctor may suggest genetic testing because of family history or because you have an aggressive prostate cancer. Genetic testing looks for certain inherited changes (mutations) in a person’s genes and can help determine if a cancer is hereditary. To find out if you have a genetic mutation linked to prostate cancer, your doctor may suggest a simple blood or saliva test.
Talking to your doctor may help to find the best testing and treatment options for you.
Dr. Kristen Scarpato, a urologist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, focuses on bladder cancer, genitourinary cancer, prostate cancer, prostatectomy and ultrasound fusion biopsy/artemis.
WILL PROSTATE CANCER CAUSE URINE LEAKAGE?
Incontinence is the inability to control the release of urine and can sometimes happen with prostate cancer treatment. There are different types of incontinence:
- Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI), when urine leaks with coughing, laughing, sneezing or exercising or with any additional pressure on the pelvic floor muscles. This is the most common type.
- Urge Incontinence, or the sudden urge to pass urine, even when the bladder is not full, because the bladder is overly sensitive. This might be called overactive bladder (OAB).
- Mixed Incontinence, a combination of stress and urge incontinence with symptoms from both types.
Because incontinence may affect your physical and emotional recovery, it is important to understand how to manage this problem. There are treatment choices that may help incontinence. Talk with your doctor before trying any of these options.
- Kegel exercises may strengthen your bladder control muscles.
- Lifestyle changes may improve your urinary functions. Try eating healthier foods, limiting smoking, losing weight and making timed visits to the bathroom.
- Medication may help improve bladder control by affecting the nerves and muscles around the bladder.
- Neuromuscular electrical stimulation uses a device to help strengthen bladder muscles.
- Surgery to control urination may include injecting collagen to tighten the bladder sphincter, implanting a urethral sling to tighten the bladder neck or an artificial sphincter device.
- Products, such as pads, may help you stay dry but do not treat incontinence.
- Avoiding bladder irritants that include caffeine, alcohol and artificial sweeteners.
Dr. Kyle A. Richards, a urologic oncologist at University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and Chief of Urology at William S. Middleton Memorial VA Hospital, focuses on prostate cancer, bladder cancer and continent urinary diversions.
HOW DOES SEXUAL HEALTH CHANGE WITH PROSTATE CANCER?
Men may have sexual health problems following their cancer diagnosis or treatments. Erectile dysfunction (ED) is when a man finds it hard to get or keep an erection strong enough for sex. ED happens when there is not enough blood flow to the penis or when nerves to the penis are harmed.
Cancer in the prostate, colon, rectum and bladder are the most common cancers that can affect a man’s sexual health. Treatments for cancer, along with emotional stress, can lead to ED.
The chance of ED after prostate cancer treatment depends on many things, such as:
- Overall health
- Medications you take
- Sexual function before treatment
- Cancer stage
- Damage to your nerves or blood vessels from surgery or radiation
There are treatments that may help ED. They include pills, vacuum pumps, urethral suppositories, penile injections and implants. Treatment can be individualized. Some treatments may work better for you than others. They have their own set of side effects. A health care provider can talk with you about the pros and cons of each method and help you decide which single treatment or combination of treatments is right for you.
Dr. Akanksha Mehta, a urologist at Emory University School of Medicine, focuses on male reproductive and sexual medicine.