'Isolation' after cancer treatment
Men feel isolated and abandoned by health services once their cancer treatment has ended, researchers at the University of Ulster have reported.
The findings were made after examining how men cope with diagnosis, treatment and after-care of prostate cancer.
The study, funded by the Ulster Cancer Foundation (UCF) to mark International Men's Health Week, explored how men cope with the effects of combined radiotherapy and hormone treatment.
Dr Eilis McCaughan, principal research investigator at the Institute of Nursing Research, said: "This is one of the first studies to highlight both the physical and psychosocial issues that men face, over a period of time, when living with a diagnosis of prostate cancer.
"The results highlight the impact of cancer and its treatments on men and their reactions and responses to them."
The patients were found to have been satisfied with the care and support received during treatment, but felt isolated and abandoned once treatment had ended.
The research also discovered that those with a low quality of life prior to radiotherapy experienced an even lower level of quality of life soon after treatment. The researchers said they constituted an at-risk and vulnerable group in need of support from health services.
Roisin Foster, chief executive of UCF, said: "Cancer has a huge impact on our society. Every year in Northern Ireland around 960 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer.
"We know from our work with men living with prostate cancer that dealing with the side effects of cancer treatment can have long-term impact on men's confidence, self-esteem and quality of life. The findings of this research are crucially important to us as we plan and deliver services that will offer optimal support throughout their illness.
"The findings validate experience on the ground and clearly point the way for the development of support services tailored to the expressed needs of men living with prostate cancer."