In 2019, The WHO reported that there are 1.3 million new cases of prostate cancer per year and that there are 307, 000 deaths annually. The Prostate Cancer Organization of Australia has reported that:
- 1 in 6 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer vs 1 in 9 women diagnosed with breast cancer.
- Men have a 1 in 2 risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer if they have a 1st line male relative diagnosed. (www.prostateorg.au)
The prostate is a walnut sized gland located between the bladder and the penis and it has a role to play in urinary control, sexual function, and fertility (it produces 80% of the ejaculate volume).
There are two kinds of prostate cancer. Localized prostate cancer results when the cancer cells are confined to the gland and this type is highly curable. Advanced prostate cancer occurs when the cancer cells move beyond the prostate into the surrounding tissue. The classification system used involves a tumour staging TNM system and a Gleason Score. A combination of both of those will determine both the course of treatment and the predicted outcomes for patients.
A prostatectomy is a surgical intervention to remove a part or all the prostate gland. A radical prostatectomy is a surgical intervention whereby the prostate and the tissues surrounding it are removed. These tissues may include the seminal vesicles and nearby lymph nodes. If possible, surgeons will attempt to spare the nerves that run on either side of the prostate.
With a diagnosis of cancer comes several emotions including shock, fear, uncertainty, and distress. And often, these emotions prevent men from hearing the possible/probable side effects that can occur with surgery. As a result of this, patients may not be prepared for their post surgical life. Physical side effects of treatment include:
- Urinary incontinence which affects up to 80-98% of men (Hodges et al., 2019)
- Erectile dysfunction which affects 68-98% of men (Nelson, Journal of Sex Medicine, 2013)
- Peyronies Disease which may result from scar tissue changing the length and curvature of the penis. After a radical prostatectomy, 16% of men and after radiation, 12% of men developed Peyronies (Tal, 2013)
All these potential outcomes can contribute to a devastating impact on a patient’s quality of life.
What patients DO need to know is that Pelvic Floor Physiotherapists can help, and this has been demonstrated by research conducted by Dr. Jo Milios, Physiotherapist (PhD). In 2020, Dr. Milios performed a randomized controlled trial to assess the outcome of “pelvic floor muscle training protocols for a faster return to continence, erectile function and quality of life following Radical Prostatectomy”.
The results of Dr. Milios’ research confirmed that pelvic floor therapy by a qualified Pelvic Physiotherapist will provide the tools to assist with:
- Improving continence
- Improving sexual function
- Improving fitness
- Improving fatigue
- Improving strength
- Improving cardiovascular health
- Improving mood
- Improving self esteem
- Improving QUALITY OF LIFE
If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, please reach out to learn more about what our Pelvic Physiotherapists can do to help. We aim to begin a pre-hab program with patients PRIOR to surgery and walk the journey along side you or we help those who have already undergone surgery and may be struggling.
If you have questions, please do not hesitate to email us at our Pelvic Physiotherapy Centre at [email protected].