Prostate cancer is the most common cancer specific to men, accounting for 14.5% of all men’s cancers worldwide. Prostate cancer has a 5-year survival rate of 95% when diagnosed early! However, this means men often have to live with the side effects of treatment, which can be very challenging to daily life and function.
Let’s visit treatment for prostate cancer. The main treatment modes are:
- Surgery (radical prostectomy) – this removes most of or the whole prostate
- Radiation therapy
- Androgen Deprivation Therapy (ADT) – depriving testosterone, which helps the cancer grow
All the above modes of treatment have an impact on the prostate of course and therefore on things like continence (both urine and faecal), which can impact quality of life!
The Pelvic Floor
We often hear confusion from men about their pelvic floor. Most seem to think they don’t have one! The pelvic floor muscles extend like a hammock from the pubic bone in the front to the coccyx in the tailbone at the back. They help support the bladder and rectum, so you can understand why they need to remain strong!
If your prostate is affected by invasive therapies such as surgery or radiation, pelvic floor exercises will be invaluable to strengthening up the area and ensuring you don’t experience incontinence!
How to activate your pelvic floor
It’s sometimes best to visualise what is happening in the area to best find the muscles! Use your imagination:
- You are walking into a VERY cold body of water and you are trying to avoid your gentleman parts from touching the cold water. Feel the sensation of drawing your scrotum up into your tummy!
- You are using the toilet when the Queen (or another appropriate member of the royal family/family of importance) walks into the cubicle next to you and you have to stop mid-stream!
The maximal hold: Gentle exercises held for a few seconds like the above are excellent; however, a maximal isometric hold of your pelvic floor for 10 seconds is also important! Do this when you are NOT on the toilet – we don’t recommend holding your urine stream for that long!
- Don’t hold your breath! A controlled breathing pattern is necessary
- Do not push down; focus on pulling the hammock UP!
- Do not activate any other muscles
REMEMBER – do not do any of these exercises if you have a catheter inserted
Doing these exercises before, during and after a cancer diagnosis will be invaluable. Start now!