November 9, 2014 | by aishii
They may not talk about it, but women with cancers in the pelvic region, such as cervical cancer, bladder cancer and uterine cancer, often have problems controlling their urine, bowel or flatus. Although they may feel isolated, they're far from alone.
Many other women have such problems, too. In fact, nearly one in three women in the United States have what's known as a pelvic floor disorder, according to the National Institutes of Health. Such disorders occur when muscles or other tissue within the pelvic region weaken, causing symptoms such as urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse, in which a pelvic organ drops from its normal position.
But the condition is not as debilitating as many women think.
“Pelvic floor disorders not only can be treated, they can often cured,” says City of Hope urogynecologist Christopher Chung, M.D., a specialist in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.
Pelvic floor disorders include bladder and bowel control problems, pelvic organ prolapse (which can occur with the uterus, bladder, rectum or vagina), pelvic pain and problems with sexual function. Such problems affect women of all ages, but in most cases, a urogynecologist can significantly improve or even eliminate them altogether.
Beyond cancer and its treatment-related side effects, risk factors for pelvic floor disorders include age, race, obesity, childbirth, routine heavy lifting, chronic diseases and a history of pelvic surgery, which can weaken the pelvic floor. Inherited factors also can contribute to pelvic floor disorders.
Pelvic floor disorders do not need to cripple a woman’s quality of life. Further, surgery isn't the only solution. Many pelvic floor disorders can be successfully treated with diet modification, medication, and behavioral and physical therapy.
For more information on pelvic floor disorders, join Chung on Tuesday, Nov. 11, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in City of Hope's Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center, where he'll explain the treatment and management of such conditions. The presentation is free, but reservations are recommended. Please call 626-256-8653.