We all take normal function of the urinary tract for granted. It's working 24 hours a day for us, and we only notice it when some part of it starts malfunctioning.

In this report, we investigate four specific urological disorders — urinary incontinence, erectile dysfunction, bladder health and prostate cancer — highlight the signs, symptoms and treatments for each, and underline the importance of early intervention, particularly with malignant conditions.

Awareness of other urological conditions  

There has been a lot of publicity around prostate cancer recently, which is as it should be: it's the most common cancer in men in the UK. We mustn't forget other urological conditions, however, which while not life threatening can have a devastating impact on quality of life. Urinary incontinence, for example is a significant healthcare issue in women, and occurs more commonly with increasing age. Incontinence in men is less common, but does occur particularly following prostatic surgery for both benign and malignant disease.

Concerns

Erectile dysfunction is another important healthcare issue in the ageing male population — a significant and not uncommon consequence of surgery and other treatment for prostate cancer; while bladder cancer, which can be caused by smoking, usually presents with blood in the urine, requires early diagnosis and appropriate specialist management, usually involving surgical intervention. According to statistics from Cancer Research UK, bladder cancer is the 13th most common cancer in women, with around 2,900 new cases diagnosed in 2011.

The message is: if people have healthcare concerns in any of these areas they should seek advice from their GP.

Unfortunately, some people can be embarrassed when they begin experiencing urological problems and put off going to see their doctor. They shouldn't. As this report makes clear, depending on the condition and its progression, treatment may prove life-enhancing — or life-saving.