November is men’s health awareness month in Australia. Did you know in Australia prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men, and more men die of prostate cancer than women die as a result of breast cancer, it is a big issues affecting that lives of men today. As our ability to treat cancer improves, survivors can often be left with issues that can significantly impact their quality of life. Let’s look a little closer at what can happen after surgical removal of the prostate- a prostatectomy.
The prostate gland.
The prostate is a gland that sits below the bladder and has a role in fertility. If it is removed surgically to treat cancer, this can lead to men have trouble with a leaking bladder plus getting and maintaining an erection. In the last few years research looking into the management of these symptoms after surgery has meant most men can often gain most if not all of this function back.
“Physiotherapy has been shown to play a large role in this recovery. How you ask? Men have
a pelvic floor too.”
The Pelvic floor is made up of joints, muscle and connective tissue, improving the function of these support structures in men settles repair those symptoms more quickly that no follow up, and starting physiotherapy before your operation is even more helpful (Burgio, Goode et al. 2006). Just like having physio before and after knee and back surgery for example.
Isn’t this taboo?
Often men feel embarrassed discussing ‘below the belt’ symptoms with health professionals. To be a pelvic health therapist, we learn a great deal about how to help men specifically with their needs, anything you say, we most likely will have heard before. Often there is a greater emphasis on women’s pelvic health needs, but here at the clinic we still care, we still understand, and we still treat men with these conditions very regularly. Here at the clinic also we have non invasive techniques to assess pelvic floor muscle function, so that can ease your mind somewhat
Just like with women, the beauty of pelvic floor muscle training is that no matter when you start, improvements can be seen. Even if the surgery was 10 years ago, often large gains can be made with strength and function, because our techniques for treatment and understanding has improved a lot in recent years. If you know someone who could benefit from a chat with one of our therapists, or if you are a man with questions yourself don’t hesitate to give us a call.
What’s the risk?
Finally the risk factors for prostate cancer include:
- Age- over 50yrs (or over 40yrs with a primary relative already affected),
- Genetics – a male relative with a prostate cancer history, a primary female relative with certain types of breast/ ovarian and uterine cancers.
- A waist measurement over 94cm diameter.
If these risks sound familiar or if you are showing signs of prostate disease which may include trouble emptying your bladder, a stop/start flow or long dribble to end, start a conversation with your GP today. The prostate cancer foundation of Australia (pcfa.org.au) has amazing information and resources and help for anyone in need.
#AskTheExperts. Why not ask a question to our physiotherapists by visiting our website www.calmandconnection.com.au and sending us a message. In December we will post your question (anonymously) to our Facebook page and do our best to give you a honest and informative answer. If you want to know… chances are somebody else does too!
Prostate cancer foundation of Australia. (pcfa.org.au)
Preoperative Biofeedback Assisted Behavioral Training to Decrease Post-Prostatectomy
Incontinence: A Randomized, Controlled Trial. Burgio, K, Goode, S. et al Journal of Urology,
Volume 175, Issue 1, January 2006