Previous studies of living with prostate cancer have shown that the illness and the treatment cause physical as well as psychosocial problems.
The aim of this study was to illuminate men's experiences living with localized or local advanced prostate cancer when curative treatment such as surgery or radiation therapy is not an option at the time of diagnosis.
The study was conducted via qualitative interviews, using a phenomenological hermeneutic approach. Ten men treated with endocrine therapy or under active surveillance were interviewed.
Being diagnosed with prostate cancer was described as a shock, with different aspects of the illness revealed gradually. The limited amount of time available for meeting with health care providers contributed to patients' feelings of being left alone with difficulty getting information and help. Sexual and urinary problems were perceived as a threat to their manhood. The spouses provided the closest everyday support.
The life situation of these patients can be understood as living in a "state of readiness," expecting something to happen regarding their illness, and not always knowing where to get help.
The results confirm existing knowledge of patient's experiences in living with prostate cancer regarding the initial shock perceived by the patients, the bodily alterations, and the important role of their spouses. Nurses, as well as general practitioners, must play a more active role in follow-up to ensure that the men and their spouses receive better help and support.
Author Affiliations: Department of Health and Care Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Tromsø (Mrs Ervik and Dr Asplund); Department of Oncology, University Hospital of North Norway, Tromsø (Mrs Ervik and DrNordøy); and Department of Clinical Medicine Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Tromsø, Tromsø (Dr Nordøy), Norway; and Department of Health Science, Mid Sweden University, Sundsvall, Sweden (Dr Asplund).
This study was funded by the University of Tromsø, N - 9037 Tromsø, Norway, and the Regional Health Authority of Northern Norway, 8038 Bodø, Norway.
Correspondence: Bente Ervik, RNT, MA(Ed), Department of Health and Care Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Tromsø, N - 9037 Tromsø, Norway (email@example.com).
Accepted for publication December 29, 2009.