Several times now I’ve mentioned the urinary incontinence that can result from prostate cancer. However, there is another form of cancer that is often associated with incontinence. It is the sixth most common cancer in the U.S: bladder cancer. The Federation of Bladder Cancer Awareness (www.bladder-cancer.net) has declared November 13-17 Bladder Cancer Awareness Week.
Bladder cancer occurs when there is abnormal cell growth in the bladder. One of the most common signs is blood in the urine, which can often be seen by the naked eye. Painful or frequent urination can also be signs of bladder cancer; however, it is important to remember with all of these signs that they can often be indicators of other conditions rather than bladder cancer, including urinary tract infections. It’s always best to get any of these signs checked out by a doctor.
While incontinence is not often the result of the actual bladder cancer, it is often the result of the treatment for the cancer. Sadly, my research doesn’t reveal much about incontinence as it relates to bladder cancer. Obviously when facing any cancer the first priority has to be treatment. However, after treatment when one is anxious to return to their "normal life", adjusting to having incontinence or an ostomy can be difficult.
If you’ve been diagnosed with bladder cancer, please know that there is hope not only after cancer, but also after incontinence. You may want to consider joining a support group - and try not to be embarrassed about bringing up incontinence issues. Often your peers will be able to share tips for coping both physically and emotionally.
If you are having difficulty bringing up the topic face-to-face, find an online support group or message boards where you can read suggestions from others and post your own specific questions. You can try utilizing the message boards here at Health Central, or at the Simon Foundation for Continence at www.simonfoundation.org/simonsays06.
The American Cancer Society estimates that 61,420 people will be diagnosed with bladder cancer this year alone is the U.S… In addition to that, there are up to 33 million American men and women living with various kinds of incontinence. However you choose to get information and support for incontinence, please know that you are not alone.
Jasmine wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Incontinence.