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Young Men With Cancer: A Literature Review

Campbell-Enns, Heather J. MSc; Woodgate, Roberta L. PhD, RN

doi: 10.1097/NCC.0b013e31824e8c58

Background: The impacts of cancer on young men are reportedly different from the experiences of others. These impacts may adversely affect the health and the healthcare of young men.

Objective: The purpose of this article was to conduct a literature review to examine what is known about the experiences of young men with cancer.

Methods: A systematic strategy was used to locate original research that included 4 electronic databases using the search terms men, young men, male, father, parents, and cancer experience.

Results: Sixteen studies met the inclusion criteria. Twelve studies used qualitative methodology, and 4 studies used a quantitative method; no mixed-method studies were found. Of the studies reviewed, 6 focused on the experiences of men but not young men aged 20 to 44 years exclusively, 10 studies had male and female respondents. Analysis revealed 5 themes: (1) manhood in question, (2) the good father or not, (3) family and that special bond, (4) silencing cancer talk, and (5) living with uncertainty.

Conclusions: Young men are building resources while creating family bonds, and they identify themselves through their work. Young men with cancer have needs specific to their gender and cohort.

Implications for Practice: Methodological and conceptual recommendations are presented. This includes conducting research focusing on this cohort and using a life-course perspective. Understanding the overall experience of this cohort will enable the development of clinical interventions for young men with cancer. Supportive care in a nonthreatening environment is needed to help young men cope with the problems described.

Author Affiliations: Cancer Control Program, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada.

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

Correspondence: Heather J. Campbell-Enns, MSc, Interdisciplinary Cancer Control Program, Helen Glass Centre, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg R3T 2N2, Canada (

Accepted for publication January 31, 2012.

© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.