An Exploration of the Psychosocial Impact of Prostate Cancer on Gay Men: A Review of Current Literature

Doran, Dawn, Beaver, Kinta orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-6552-2323, Williamson, Susan orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-9635-4473 and Wright, K (2013) An Exploration of the Psychosocial Impact of Prostate Cancer on Gay Men: A Review of Current Literature. Psycho-Oncology, 22 . pp. 1-29. ISSN 10579249

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BACKGROUND: Prostate cancer affects over 40,000 men in the UK each year. Despite the Government’s pledge to reduce inequalities within cancer care; research relating to the psychosocial impact of prostate cancer has predominantly focused on the experiences of heterosexual men. Moreover, whilst some health professionals suggest that gay men may face additional challenges; empirical research to support this claim is limited. Hence, current recommendations relating to prostate cancer care may not reflect the unique needs of this marginalised group.

AIMS: To explore the psychosocial impact of prostate cancer and, to highlight gaps in current knowledge relating to gay mens' experiences of the disease.

METHOD: A systematic approach to searching published qualitative papers between 1997 and 2012 using key terms was undertaken within five databases. These included CINAHL, EMBASE MEDLINE, PsycInfo and Social Science Abstracts. Studies were assessed for quality using Walsh & Downe’s (2006) framework.

RESULTS: Twenty nine studies were included within the review. Prostate cancer was found to have a profound impact on mens' personal relationships, body image, social interactions and sense of masculinity. However, whilst only four studies included gay men within their samples, they highlighted important differences between heterosexual and gay men about how these issues may impact on their lives.

CONCLUSIONS: Gay men may face additional challenges relating to health care provision and their sexuality following treatment for prostate cancer. Further research that focuses exclusively on the experiences of gay men with prostate cancer is clearly warranted.

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