PURPOSE: Prostate Cancer (PCa) is often considered to be an illness affecting older men, however the prevalence in younger men (<=65 years) is rising. Diagnosis and treatment for PCa can have a significant impact on the lives of both the man with PCa and his partner. This study explored the experiences and needs of younger men and their partners affected by PCa. The findings will be used to inform service provision and develop interventions appropriate to need.
METHODS: Participants were recruited from respondents to a national PROMS study (Life After Prostate Cancer Diagnosis (LAPCD), who indicated on completed questionnaires their willingness to be interviewed. Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with twenty-eight couples, separately (56 participants). Data were analysed using the Framework Method.
RESULTS: Following the diagnosis of PCa, couples' experienced changes in their intimate relationships, parental/familial roles, work and finances, and social connections and activities. Couples adopted a range of strategies and behaviours to help their adjustment to PCa, such as communicating with each other, distancing, distraction, and adopting a positive mindset towards PCa. This, in turn, influenced how their identity as a couple evolved.
CONCLUSIONS: Following a diagnosis of PCa, the identity of couples are continually evolving. It is important that these couples are provided with the appropriate information, support and resources to help them transition along the cancer pathway.
IMPLICATIONS FOR CANCER SURVIVORS: Key areas of support identified for younger couples include: 1) couple focused support programme to foster relationship strategies/behaviours that facilitate couple adjustment; 2) age-specific support, e.g. 'buddying systems' connecting younger couples affected by PCa and providing them with tailored information (written/online/app).