Editor's Commentary - Dealing with a troublesome body: A qualitative interview study of men's experiences living with prostate cancer treated with endocrine therapy

BERKELEY, CA (UroToday.com) - In the European Journal of Oncology Nursing, Drs. Bente Ervik and Kenneth Asplund report that androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) for prostate cancer (CaP) has significant impact on body habitus and leads to feelings of identity loss among patients.

Symptoms affecting men on ADT included erectile dysfunction (ED), loss of libido, hot flashes, breast enlargement, loss of muscle mass, fatigue, and depression. This can affect their masculinity, sexuality and relationships.

Ten patients underwent qualitative interviews using a phenomenological hermeneutic approach, well suited for acquiring rich descriptions from patients in an effort to understand everyday experiences. The focus was on the bodily alterations occurring during the illness trajectory. Interviews lasted about 90 minutes and were recorded and transcribed. The transcripts were analyzed for consensus on themes and different themes were integrated to illuminate the phenomenon of living with CaP and the bodily changes resulting from ADT.

Patients felt that ADT was a journey of relating to different bodily alterations throughout the illness trajectory. Initially overwhelmed by the diagnosis of CaP, they then were subjected to a variety of tests and variable understanding and interpretation of the results. Men were surprised about the advanced stage of their disease with the lack of significant symptoms. Both the cancer and side effects resulted in problems such as urinary obstruction and ED. Descriptors included “lost the lust to sleep with my wife” and feeling like a eunuch. Yet some men accepted ED if it meant living longer. One patient described breast enlargement as “not beautiful.” There was some consensus that humor was important in successfully dealing with the illness.

Ervik B, Asplund K


Eur J Oncol Nurs. 2011 May 6. Epub ahead of print.

PubMed Abstract
PMID: 21550304

UroToday.com Prostate Cancer Section