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What makes a man a man? The lived experience of male breast cancer.

Authors
  • Donovan, Tom
  • Flynn, Maria
Type
Published Article
Journal
Cancer nursing
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2007
Volume
30
Issue
6
Pages
464–470
Identifiers
PMID: 18025919
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Male breast cancer is a rare condition with scant research into its psychosocial impact. This phenomenologic study sought to elicit its lived experience. Following analysis of interview data, 4 key themes emerged: Living with male breast cancer, concealment as a strategy for managing the diagnosis, a contested masculinity, interacting with health services. Male breast cancer constitutes a unique lived experience for men that is unparalleled in other disease profiles. The idea of living with a feminized illness was very distressing and stigmatizing for some men. Furthermore, treatment resulted in a profound change to the concept of their embodied selves and constituted a significant change to body image and sexuality. This was reinforced in participants who experienced erectile dysfunction related to tamoxifen therapy. Sadly, some health professionals were unable to offer specific psychosocial support, and participants felt marginalized from the potential benefits of the treatment environment. However, participants adapted to the illness by reasserting and renegotiating masculinity and finding ways to accommodate life with a stigmatizing condition and an altered body image.

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