Men’s Experiences and Management Strategies Following Treatment for Prostate Cancer

Richard Green

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men in the UK. Survival rates are high yet side effects from treatments are common and can persist for many years after treatment. Sociological scholarship has posited that cancer has chronic dimensions and recent work has sought to conceptualise prostate cancer as a chronic illness. This research examines men’s chronic illness experiences following treatment for prostate cancer and how men seek to manage these experiences.

Qualitative interviews with 29 men who have been treated for prostate cancer were undertaken. These men, aged 53-83 years, were recruited from two prostate cancer support groups (PCSGs) in South-East England. Men’s prostate cancer experiences, from pre-diagnosis onwards, were explored within the broader context of men’s health, employment, and family lives.

This research identified chronic illness dimensions in men’s accounts. Men experienced uncertainties about the fear of cancer recurring, the fear of having made the ‘right’ choice in opting for treatment, and how to manage ongoing cancer treatment side effects. Men commonly experienced urinary incontinence (UI) and erectile dysfunction (ED) following treatment, both conditions that posed challenges to their masculine identities.

In response, men employed vigilance strategies to manage their uncertainties. They acquired specialist prostate cancer expertise, facilitated by PCSG attendance, to manage uncertainties and maintain masculinity. Strategies to manage UI required planning and constant body attention to engage in public, thereby demonstrating masculinity to others, but were a strain on men’s lives, requiring concessions to their activities. Men also sought to normalise prostate cancer by minimising its impact on their lives and by comparing themselves with others. These normalising strategies emphasised men’s moral statuses, through values of stoicism and responsibility, to preserve masculinities threatened by illness. These findings contribute to sociological literature on masculinities and how they are maintained following onset of illness.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Gabe, Jonathan, Supervisor
  • Meadows, Robert, Supervisor, External person
  • Arber, Sara, Supervisor, External person
  • Moore, Sarah, Advisor
Thesis sponsors
Award date1 Aug 2017
Publication statusUnpublished - 2017

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