Masculinity and Perceived Control: How Quality of Life Concerns Affect Psychosocial Distress for Prostate Cancer Patients

March 5, 2019

On February 14th, 2019 our Research and Training Institute (RTI) presented findings of a study on more than 200 men with a diagnosis of prostate cancer at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Genitourinary Cancers Symposium. Below is a post from the research team about the significance of their findings for the prostate cancer community.

As the famous song goes, the RTI “left our hearts in San Francisco,” so we were so excited to return to the Bay Area on Valentine’s Day to share new research at the 2019 Annual ASCO Genitourinary Cancers Symposium. We presented a poster highlighting findings from the Cancer Experience Registry®’s prostate cancer specialty registry. Our research, entitled “Prostate Cancer-Related Quality of Life and Risk for Anxiety and Depression,” examined psychosocial distress and quality of life among men diagnosed with prostate cancer. Research in this area is particularly important given that prostate cancer patients often undergo invasive treatments, which can frequently be accompanied with emotional concerns.

What did we do?

We looked at quality of life across six domains relevant to men with prostate cancer (including sexual confidence, masculine self-esteem, perceived cancer control, urinary control, sexual intimacy, and treatment regret) to see what might predict the likelihood of clinically significant levels of anxiety and depression, as measured by CancerSupportSource®.

What did we find?

We saw that that those who perceive that they have less control over their cancer (which can include things like questioning treatment efficacy and worrying about disease progression) are more likely to be at risk for clinically significant anxiety. Likewise, we saw that those who report having lower masculine self-esteem (which can include no longer feeling like a whole man and feeling weak and small) are more likely to be at risk for clinically significant depression.

What comes next?

Our findings show the need for clear and honest patient-provider communication, particularly around such topics as disease progression and treatment efficacy. We also encourage providers to initiate conversations around topics like masculinity that prostate cancer patients may not feel as confident addressing.  Additionally, men diagnosed with prostate cancer may benefit from integrated psychosocial, educational, and supportive resources.

Share Your Experience

At the Cancer Support Community, innovative patient-focused research is at the heart of what we do. We can’t accomplish this without insight from patients, and that is why we ask patients, survivors, and caregivers of all cancer diagnoses to share their stories by participating in the Cancer Experience Registry®, a free, confidential survey that is open to anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer or provides care to someone with cancer.

Participate in the Cancer Experience Registry® here.