Prostate Cancer

How it affects families

Almost all the men said that they had informed other members of their family about their diagnosis of prostate cancer. Often wives were present at the consultation when men received the diagnosis or they were told soon afterwards. However, a few men chose not to inform certain relatives because they did not want to worry them. While some men said that relationships within the family had not changed in any way, others said that the diagnosis had altered social interaction within the family to some extent. For example, one man reported that his brother felt embarrassed about the diagnosis and so tended to avoid all social contact and others reported that their children became more attentive and less demanding once they knew about the situation. However, one man reported that his adult children had not really understood the implications of the diagnosis.
Family members' past experience of cancer, or their knowledge of illness, may affect the way in which they react to the situation and one man pointed out that various members of his immediate family reacted in very different ways. Many men mentioned that their wives and children had been shocked when they heard the news and one man said that his family suffered because he did not want to discuss the situation.
Informing others can be a positive experience, both because setting out the situation can help to reduce anxiety and because family members can be loving and supportive. Men said that their wives positive attitude had helped them come to terms with the diagnosis, and one man said that the news of his illness had brought him and his wife closer together.
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Last reviewed January 2014

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