Serial Assessment of Urinary Incontinence in Breast Cancer Survivors Undergoing (Neo)Adjuvant Therapy

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Background: Among breast cancer survivors, urinary incontinence (UI) is often attributed to cancer therapy. We prospectively assessed urinary symptoms before and after (neo)adjuvant treatment of early-stage breast cancer. Methods: With consent, women with stage I–III breast cancer completed the Urogenital Distress Inventory and the Incontinence Impact Questionnaire before and 3 months after initiating (neo)adjuvant therapy. Patients with UI were at least slightly bothered by urinary symptoms. If UI was present pretreatment, it was considered prevalent; if UI was new or worse at 3 months posttreatment, it was considered incident; if prevalent UI was no worse at 3 months posttreatment, it was considered stable. Ordinal logistic regression models identified characteristics associated with the level of prevalent UI and with the degree of UI impact on quality of life (QoL). Results: On pretreatment surveys, participants (N=203; age 54.5 ± 11.4 years) reported 79.8% prevalence of UI, including overactive bladder (29.1%), stress incontinence (10.8%), or both (39.9%). The level of prevalent UI increased with body mass index (BMI; P<.05). Of 163 participants assessed at both time points, incident UI developed in 12 of 32 patients without prevalent UI and 27 of 131 patients with prevalent UI. Regardless of whether UI was prevalent (n=162), incident (n=39), or stable (n=94) at QoL assessment, the impact of UI increased (P<.01) with the number and severity of UI symptoms, subjective urinary retention, and BMI. Adjusted for those characteristics, incident UI had less impact on QoL (P<.05) than did prevalent or stable UI. Conclusions: We found that UI is highly prevalent at breast cancer diagnosis and that new or worsened UI is common after (neo)adjuvant therapy. Because UI often impairs QoL, appropriate treatment strategies are needed.

Submitted June 20, 2019; accepted for publication January 10, 2020.

Author contributions: Study design: Chung, Mortimer. Data acquisition: All authors. Data analysis and interpretation: Chung, Mortimer. Manuscript preparation and critical revision for important intellectual content: All authors.

Disclosures: The authors have disclosed that they have not received any financial consideration from any person or organization to support the preparation, analysis, results, or discussion of this article.

Funding: This work was supported by funding from the NCI (P30 CA33572).

Correspondence: Christopher P. Chung, MD, Urogynecology, Division of Gynecologic Oncology, City of Hope National Medical Center, 1500 East Duarte Road, Duarte, CA 91010. Email: chchung@coh.org
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