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

  • Bente Ervik
    Corresponding author. Department of Health and Care Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Tromsø, N-9037 Tromsø, Norway. Tel.: +47 77645463, +47 97753395 (mobile); fax: +4777626779.
    Department of Health and Care Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Tromsø, N-9037 Tromsø, Norway

    Department of Oncology, University Hospital of North Norway, N-9038 Tromsø, Norway
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  • Kenneth Asplund
    Department of Health and Care Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Tromsø, N-9037 Tromsø, Norway

    Department of Health Science, Mid Sweden University, S-85170 Sundsvall, Sweden
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      Endocrine therapy for prostate cancer causes substantial side effects, and previous studies have focused on the impacts on sexuality and masculinity. Little is known about how men experience bodily alterations in everyday life through the course of the prostate cancer and treatment. The aim of this study was to show how men with prostate cancer experience bodily changes and how these alterations influence daily life.


      The study was conducted via qualitative interviews with a phenomenological hermeneutic approach. We interviewed ten men (aged 58–83) with prostate cancer who received endocrine therapy as the primary treatment method.


      The results showed that five themes were important for the men’s experiences of their bodily alterations throughout the course of the illness: “something is ‘wrong’”, “when the body becomes troublesome”, “to be well or to be ill”, “dealing with the alterations” and “to talk about cancer and the intimate details”. Initially, the shock of receiving a cancer diagnosis and the physical changes in their bodies were at the forefront of many patients’ minds. Eventually, the impact of the side effects became more evident, which caused problems in everyday life. Yet, the men were able to reflect on the impact of treatment on their everyday lives.


      This study showed that hormone treatment has a significant influence, both directly and indirectly, on the bodies of prostate cancer patients. The experiences of men with prostate cancer may lead to feelings of loss of identity on an existential level.


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