Exploring the lived experience of gay men with prostate cancer: A phenomenological study

Gay men with prostate cancer are an 'invisible species' in the research literature despite concerns that the impact of treatment may be more profound and in some ways unique compared to heterosexual men. The aim of this research is to explore the lived experience of gay men with prostate cancer.

In-depth interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim from a purposive sample of eight gay men treated for prostate cancer in Ireland. A qualitative methodological approach employing Giorgi's descriptive phenomenological method was used to collect and analyse data.

Three key aspects emerged representing the essence of the participants lived experience; The experience of diagnosis, treatment decision making, and the impact of treatment, with sub-themes of shock of diagnosis, the generalist nature of information, sexual side effects and incontinence, and masculinity and gay identity. Secondly, the experience of the healthcare service with sub-themes of sexual orientation disclosure and communication with the healthcare team; and thirdly, sources of support and means of coping which included significant others, family & friends, cancer support groups, and gay resources and support services.

Gay men with prostate cancer have unmet information and supportive care needs throughout their prostate cancer journey, especially related to the impact of sexual dysfunction and associated rehabilitation, negatively impacting their quality of life. Issues associated with heteronormativity, minority stress, and stigma may influence how gay men interact with the health service, or how they perceive the delivery of care. Healthcare education providers should update prostate cancer education programmes accordingly.

European journal of oncology nursing : the official journal of European Oncology Nursing Society. 2018 Feb 06 [Epub]

Robert W McConkey, Catherine Holborn

Urology Outpatient Department, Galway University Hospital, Galway, Ireland. Electronic address: ., Sheffield Hallam University, Howard Street, Sheffield, S1 1WB, UK.