Gay men with prostate cancer can face multiple additional challenges to those of heterosexual men, including isolation and fear ‘coming out’ to their treatment team. They may lack the support of a traditional family structure in addition to other social and economic factors.
Gaps have been identified (both policy and service provision) that require consideration for this vulnerable group.
The first Victorian prostate cancer support group for gay men was established to address these challenges, in a gay friendly environment. The group was launched in September 2011 by Cancer Council Victoria (CCV), in collaboration with Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA), a prostate care nurse and consumers.
The group used a collaborative, cross organisational approach with consumer and professional representation. Gay specific health services and media were targeted. Group meetings were held in gay-friendly space, and employed a psycho-educational model, including guest speakers and opportunities to share narratives. CCV mentored the group facilitator and provide ongoing support.
7 men attended the launch of the first meeting. 6 out of the 7 men felt that the session met their needs, with the most valuable parts of the session named as “the understanding, compassion and direction” now felt. It was decided the group should meet monthly, and now has 16 members (May 2012). A one-year evaluation will take place in September 2012. Topics/themes covered at the group meetings so far include erectile dysfunction, relationships, identity, coming out to the treatment team, and meditation/relaxation.
Gay men with prostate cancer face multiple barriers to accessing supportive care. Offering a gay specific space for men to meet without fear of judgement or prejudice is an essential step forward in offering services to all men affected by prostate cancer.
1. Davis Cornell MD A Gay Urologist’s Changing Views on Prostate Cancer. http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~content=t904385604