Much of it has to do with the location of the prostate. Because the prostate sits underneath the bladder, it’s right next to where urine is held and near the muscles that control the opening and closing of the bladder. So, any prostate cancer treatment is likely to affect your urinary habits.
How common is it?
Most men that’ve had prostate cancer treatment, especially surgery or radiation therapy (also known as radiotherapy), experience some level of urinary problems. The challenges will be different based on the treatment you’ve had, but most issues are treatable and will improve over time.
Make sure to talk to your doctor or care team, as they’ll know what’s normal and where you may need more support.
If you’ve already had treatment or want to know more about
related urinary problems, check below to see what’s typical:
After surgery for prostate cancer, men might experience:
stress incontinence (leaking when you sneeze, cough, laugh, lift things)
temporary leaking after your catheter is removed
blood in your urine (wee)
More on surgery and urinary problems
After radiation therapy, men can experience:
needing to urinate (wee) suddenly
needing to urinate more often
going to the toilet several times at night
pain when you urinate
difficulty urinating (weak flow)
blood in your urine (wee)
Hormone therapy alone does not cause urinary problems. But often, men will have hormone therapy in combination with another treatment (like radiation therapy), which can cause urinary problems. Speak to your doctor or care team if you are experiencing urinary problems.
Chemotherapy treatment itself is not a common cause of urinary problems. Please speak to your doctor or care team if you are experiencing urinary symptoms.
If you're experiencing urinary problems, speak to your doctor or care team. Men on active surveillance can still get worsening urinary problems because the normal part of the prostate can still grow — called ‘benign prostatic hyperplasia’. Talk to your urologist to see if there are medications or treatments to help you urinate (wee) more easily.
While on watchful waiting, you might experience some urinary problems, like needing to urinate (wee) more often. This is because the normal part of the prostate can still grow — called benign prostatic hyperplasia. You might also experience a weak flow of urine. If these things happen, you need to let your urologist or care team know, to see if there are medications or treatments to help you urinate more easily.
After HIFU, some men experience leakage, although this is rare (1 in 100 men).
Because HIFU causes your prostate to swell, it might be hard to urinate (wee) immediately after treatment, so you’ll be given a catheter. You might experience some leaking of urine right after your catheter is taken out, but this should be temporary.
Cryotherapy can cause the prostate to swell, which leads to urinary problems. You’ll be sent home with a catheter after getting treated, to help the urine drain well. You might have some leakage right after your catheter is taken out, but this should be temporary. You might also see some blood in your urine, but this should clear up on its own.
Immunotherapy is not currently available in Australia, but may be offered in other countries. Side effects vary based on the type of immunotherapy. It is a newer treatment for prostate cancer, so how well it works and its side effects are still being understood.