Overactive bladder syndrome: an underestimated long-term problem after treatment of patients with localized prostate cancer?


Ruth Kirschner-Hermanns, Continence Clinic/Clinic of Urology, University Clinic RWTH Aachen, Pauwelsstr. 30, 52057 Aachen, Germany. e-mail ruthkirsch@aol.com


Study Type – Therapy (case series)

Level of Evidence 4

What's known on the subject? and What does the study add?

In this study we observed courses of micturition symptoms and differentiated degrees of symptoms for each point in time while also considering the impact of bothersomeness. Our data show that not only significantly more patients who have undergone BT suffer from OAB than those who have undergone RP, but also that those affected show significantly higher values for severity of OAB symptoms throughout the whole observation period of 36 months. Our data analysis further shows that variability of OAB symptoms as well as fluctuation of severity of OAB symptoms vary to a significantly higher degree after BT than after RP. Looking only at mean figures at a given point in time clearly underestimates the underlying problem. This fact is not reflected in the literature.


  • • To look at individual courses of postoperative micturition symptoms, especially urgency, in patients treated either with radical prostatectomy (RP) or with brachytherapy (BT).


  • • In a prospective longitudinal study we investigated individual changes in micturition symptoms before treatment, and 6, 12, 24 and 36 months after treatment.
  • • All patients received the European Organization for the Research and Treatment of Cancer quality-of-life questionnaire, QLQ-C30, and the International Continence Society male questionnaire at each assessment.
  • • We looked at long-term results as well as changes in time using repeated measures analysis of variance. We further analysed fluctuation of symptoms using sum of changes.


  • • Of the 389 patients treated consecutively in our clinic over the last few years, 99 patients with a mean (sd) age of 65 (6.3) years had completed all five questionnaires and thus were further analysed. Of these, 66 (66.7%) were treated with RP and 33 (33.3%) with BT.
  • • With the exception of age, no significant difference was found between the treatment groups either in physical functioning or in prevalence and severity of overactive bladder (OAB) symptoms.
  • • Adjusted for age and pretreatment symptoms in analysis of covariance, we found that there were statistically more symptoms of OAB 36 months after BT compared with those patients treated with RP (P < 0.025). Whereas 30% of patients complained about severe symptoms of urgency after BT, only 11% did so after RP.
  • • Changes of severity of OAB symptoms over the course of time (P < 0.007) using analysis of repeated measures as well as variability of OAB symptoms (P < 0.033) using the two-sided Wilcoxon t-test were significantly higher in patients treated with BT than in patients treated with RP.


  • • Independently of age and physical functioning, BT is significantly associated with higher rates of long-term urgency symptoms, even after 3 years.
  • • Repeated measurements show that OAB symptoms are highly fluctuating and that in patients treated with BT, severity of symptoms as well as variability of symptoms was significantly higher than in those patients treated with RP.
  • • Persistent OAB seems to be an underestimated problem after treatment for localized prostate cancer, especially in patients treated with BT.