The Lived Experience of Gay Men With Prostate Cancer

Doran, Dawn (2015) The Lived Experience of Gay Men With Prostate Cancer. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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Prostate cancer affects over 40,000 men in the United Kingdom each year. The UK Government’s pledge to reduce inequalities within cancer care, relating to prostate cancer, has predominantly focused on the experiences of heterosexual men and overlooked the experiences of gay men. Hence, current recommendations relating to prostate cancer care may not reflect the unique needs of this marginalised group.
This study aimed to explore the impact of prostate cancer on gay men to understand how the disease affected their life and, identify any specific psychosocial or support needs.
This interpretive phenomenological study was guided by van Manen’s methodological and analytical approach. Twelve gay men were recruited from across the UK. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to explore participants’ experiences of prostate cancer.
Interpretative data analysis incorporating hermeneutic principles identified themes and sub-themes which were reflected through the lens of Merleau-Ponty’s four lifeworld existentials.
The context in which prostate cancer is experienced is unique to gay men. Themes which convey the bodily impact of the disease (Corporeality) include ‘violation of identity’, ‘assault of the physical body’ and ‘the power of potency’. The changing sense of time (temporality) is revealed within themes of ‘threat to eternal youth’, ‘living in a state of flux’, ‘disrupted lives’ and ‘past, present and future horizons’. Relationships with others (relationality) are illuminated through the themes ‘the quest for mutual respect and equality’, ‘locating information’, ‘to tell or not to tell’, ‘changes and challenges’ ‘friendship’ and ‘in pursuit of peers’. Finally, the intimacy of space (spatiality) is uncovered within the themes ‘yearning for community’, ‘the power of proximity’ and ‘isolation’.
This is the first UK study to explore the experiences of gay men with prostate cancer, and identified unmet needs unique to gay men diagnosed with prostate cancer which have implications for clinical practice, health policy and groups which provide support to men with prostate cancer.

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