‘Out of the frying pan into the fire’: a qualitative study of the impact on masculinity for men living with advanced prostate cancer

Yakubu Salifu, Kathryn Almack, Glenys Caswell

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Background: Studies have highlighted how advanced prostate cancer causes biographical disruption and presents challenges to masculine identities for men. This article draws on a wider study that focused on the experiences of men living with advanced prostate cancer and their caregivers. Although men’s experience of advanced illness is not overlooked in the literature, only a small body of work has taken an in-depth look at men’s experiences with advanced prostate cancer and their caregivers in a non-Westernised cultural and social context.
Objective: To explore how advanced prostate cancer impacts on men’s masculine identity from the perspective of patients and their caregivers.
Methods: A qualitative study of men living with advanced prostate cancer (n = 23) and family caregivers (n = 23) in Ghana. We used the Consolidated Criteria for Reporting Qualitative Studies (COREQ) as the reporting guideline.
Results: The findings from this study highlight profound challenges for most men to their masculine identities, from both the treatment and the symptoms of advanced prostate cancer within a non-Westernised, patriarchal society. Four main themes were developed. These were the impact on masculinity in terms of: (1) physical changes, (2) sexual ability, (3) socio-economic roles and (4) expressing emotions. Changes in physical appearance, feeling belittled, having no active sexual life and the inability to continue acting as provider and protector of the family made some men describe their situation as one of moving out of the ‘frying pan into the fire’.
Conclusion: This study revealed the impact of advanced prostate cancer on masculine identity. These narratives add a new dimension to what is already known about the impacts on men’s masculine identities when dealing with advanced prostate cancer. This knowledge can help improve the care provided to men with advanced prostate cancer with emphasis on the cultures, beliefs and aspirations of these men and their caregivers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalPalliative Care and Social Practice
Early online date29 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - 29 May 2023


  • African/Black men
  • advanced prostate cancer
  • sexual life
  • masculinity
  • social construction
  • culture
  • physical appearance
  • men’s health
  • intersectionality


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