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Management of Urinary Incontinence and Retention in the Patient With Advanced Cancer

Karl R. Herwig, MD
JAMA. 1980;244(19):2203-2204. doi:10.1001/jama.1980.03310190055028.
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URINARY incontinence or retention occurring in the patient with advanced cancer is often devastating, adding further frustration to his illness and well-being. It also angers and frustrates the nursing staff, who demand that something be done, and presents a treatment challenge to the physician. The physician's response may pacify the nursing staff, but further aggrieve the patient, or satisfy the patient, but upset the nursing staff. A better response can be made when based on understanding the causes of the incontinence or retention that usually results in patient and nursing satisfaction.

Before resorting to using an indwelling catheter, the physician should ask himself: Is there an effective alternative to the catheter? Will the treatment return the patient to a better level of functioning? If the physician were the patient, what would he want done? Answering these questions often results in alternative forms of therapy that offer more ideal solutions for


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