Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists

Please note: This content was not generated by CAOT and has been posted on behalf of the Canadian Network of Occupational Therapists working in oncology. Please contact the network  if you have any concerns or questions with respect to this content or content linked from this page.

Genitourinary Cancers

Cancer of the prostate, testis, bladder and kidney are among the diagnoses in this grouping. 

  • Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American and Canadian men. 
  • Testicular cancer is also called germ cell tumor. 
  • The most common type of kidney cancer is adenocarcinoma

When genitourinary cancer spreads, it goes through the lymphatic system to pelvic nodes and through the blood stream to bones and other tissues.  Other areas of spread are to lymph nodes around the arteries and veins leading to the legs and pelvic organs and to bones in the spine, legs, arms and hips.  Ultimately, it can reach almost any organ in the body.

Common signs and symptoms

  • Painful or frequent urination
  • Pain in back, hips and thighs
  • Weight loss or loss of appetite
  • Fatigue, fever, swelling

    are commonly seen in genitourinary cancer.

Medical treatment

  • Surgery
  • Radiation therapy 
  • Chemotherapy

Role of Occupational Therapist

  • Swelling:
    The occupational therapist teaches the patient positioning techniques in bed and in chair.  Retrograde massage, elevating the affected legs through the use of pillows or elevating the footrests are helpful. The provision of proper shoes to accommodate the swollen feet such as the use of Darco shoes and the use of compression stockings can be recommended.
  • Decreased sitting comfort and tolerance: 
    The occupational therapist takes into consideration the following: history of present illness, past medical history, history of sitting discomfort, source of sacral pressure/ discomfort, ADL assessment, current cushion use, if any. For seating, the occupational therapist assesses for the cushion type, and will consider a customized cutout cushion when commercially available cushions are not appropriate. When toileting becomes an issue, the use of a padded seat or a cutout gel pad may be considered.
  • Pain:
    The occupational therapist assesses for the degree of pain based on the verbal analog scale. This is a scale from 0-10, ranging from mild to severe pain.  The use of relaxation therapy though progressive muscular relaxation and visual imagery techniques is done to minimize pain. Positioning and the use of assistive and adaptive aids are helpful, as mentioned above.
  • Sexuality: 
    Gynecological cancer patients experience alteration in sexual function depending on the extent of the condition and the treatment received. (Refer to, for the man who has cancer and his partner).
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