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Andropause Syndrome in Men Treated for Metastatic Prostate Cancer: A Qualitative Study of the Impact of Symptoms

Grunfeld, Elizabeth A. PhD; Halliday, Amber MBBS; Martin, Pauline MSc; Drudge-Coates, Lawrence MSc

doi: 10.1097/NCC.0b013e318211fa92

Background: Androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) has become the cornerstone of treatment for men with metastatic prostate cancer. However, treatments are associated with a number of adverse effects that collectively are referred to as andropause syndrome, or the male menopause.

Objective: This study explored the experience and impact of andropause symptoms, particularly hot flashes, among men undergoing ADT for metastatic prostate cancer.

Methods: Twenty-one men receiving ADT for metastatic prostate cancer underwent a qualitative interview focusing on the adverse effects of ADT and the impact of these symptoms on daily living and coping strategies.

Results: The most frequently mentioned adverse effects were hot flashes and night sweats, gynecomastia, cognitive decline, and changes in sexual function. Hot flashes did impact on everyday functioning, and night sweats regularly disturbed sleep patterns and led to participants feeling tired and irritable. Participants reported a lack of control over their hot flashes and night sweats. There was reluctance among our sample to disclose the type of symptoms experienced to others.

Conclusion: The occurrence of andropause symptoms, including hot flashes and night sweats, was common among this sample. Participants reported a range of cognitive and behavioral responses to these symptoms. There was some reluctance about discussing a prostate cancer diagnosis or the occurrence of symptoms with others.

Implications for Practice: The findings have implications for a range of individual and couple interventions to manage the impact of this constellation of symptoms.

Author Affiliations: Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, England (DrsGrunfeld and Halliday); Leeds Institute of Health Sciences, Leeds University, England (Ms Martin); and Department of Urology, King’s College Hospital, London, England (Mr Drudge-Coates).

The authors have no funding or conflicts of interest to disclose.

Correspondence: Elizabeth A. Grunfeld, PhD, Psychology Department, King’s College London, 5th Floor Bermondsey Wing, Guy’s Hospital, London SE1 9RT, UK (

Accepted for publication January 23, 2011.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.