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Prevalence of Symptomatic Pelvic Floor Disorders Among Gynecologic Oncology Patients

Thomas, Sajeena G. MD; Sato, Holly R. N. MD; Glantz, J. Christopher MD, MPH; Doyle, Paula J. MD; Buchsbaum, Gunhilde M. MD

doi: 10.1097/AOG.0b013e3182a7ef3c
Pelvic Floor Disorders Research: Original Research

OBJECTIVE: To describe the prevalence of urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse (POP) in patients with gynecologic cancer before cancer treatment.

METHODS: A screening questionnaire on pelvic floor dysfunction was administered as part of the baseline health questionnaire to 549 consecutive new patients presenting to a gynecologic oncology practice. Patients were asked whether they felt a bulge from their vagina or experienced loss of urine associated with activity or urge to urinate. The prevalence of urinary incontinence, POP, or both was determined for each malignancy and benign conditions. χ2 analyses and logistic regression were used to assess significance of differences.

RESULTS: Among the 347 women with a gynecologic malignancy, 49.9% women had uterine, 21.0% ovarian, and 14.4% cervical cancer. More than half of the patients with cancer reported baseline urinary incontinence (UI) and 10.9% felt a bulge from their vagina. Approximately 19% of these women had moderate-to-severe symptoms. The prevalence of baseline UI (P=.86) and POP (P=.08) did not differ by gynecologic cancer nor did they differ compared with women with benign gynecologic conditions (UI P=.89, POP P=.20). Logistic regression demonstrated an association between incontinence symptoms and increased age and body mass index (BMI).

CONCLUSIONS: Women with gynecologic cancer show high prevalence of symptomatic POP and UI. Age and BMI are risk factors for UI. Coordinated surgical intervention to address both the malignancy and pelvic floor dysfunction could be considered in select patients to enhance postoperative quality of life and to reduce the economic and quality-of-life costs of multiple surgeries.


Women with gynecologic cancer show a high prevalence of baseline symptomatic pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and urinary incontinence; coordinated surgical intervention could be considered in select patients.

Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, University of Rochester, School of Medicine, Rochester, New York.

Corresponding author: Sajeena G. Thomas, MD, 125 Lattimore Road, Suite 258, Rochester, NY 14620; e-mail:

Presented as an abstract and poster at the American Urogynecologic Society 33rd Annual Scientific Meeting, October 3–6, 2012, Chicago, Illinois.

The authors thank Karen Kugel, RN, for facilitating the distribution of surveys and coordinating the efforts of both divisions.

Financial Disclosure The authors did not report any potential conflicts of interest.

© 2013 by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.