OBJECTIVE: This exploratory study was intended to investigate men's ways of integrating and understanding experiences with Androgen Deprivation Therapy (ADT), including how hormone treatment affected their sense of identity.
Patients and methods: Twelve men, averaging 61 years of age and treated with ADT, participated in a single interview about their experiences with prostate cancer and hormone treatment. In keeping with a qualitative approach, questions were initially open-ended, with patients encouraged to describe experiences in their own words.
RESULTS: Seven prominent themes appeared in the interviews: 1) starting on hormones, 2) matching expectations with reality, 3) tracking changes, 4) dealing with changes in sexuality, 5) navigating relationships, 6) putting things in context, and 7) interpreting gender-relevant changes.
CONCLUSION: The effects of ADT on men with prostate cancer were varied and often substantial in their impact. Additionally, men often receive insufficient information to prepare them to deal with side effects. While the physiological situation of the men in our study could be described as "liminal" (i.e., straddled between two categories of gender), interview data showed that they refuse their liminality, claiming to be neither less masculine nor more feminine because of treatment. While men are grateful to receive potentially life-extending treatment, the challenge for the health care system is to provide them with the information and clinical support that will make their remaining years the best that they can be.