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Health Commun. 1999;11(1):59-74.

Prostate cancer's hegemonic masculinity in select print mass media depictions (1974-1995).

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Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Wilfred Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.


The meanings associated with prostate cancer were studied in contemporary mass print media. The study includes both manifest and latent content analysis of a period of approximately 2 decades, from 1974 to 1995. The manifest analysis revealed a primary emphasis on the importance of early detection. The latent analysis found that prostate cancer's presentation is gendered. Its description is embedded in themes related to masculinity, sexuality, competition, brotherhood, and machismo. This small, qualitative, and inductive study raises questions about the socially significant portrayal of the meanings of disease in the media, about the men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, have symptoms of prostate cancer, or about all men, because any man might at some time be diagnosed with prostate cancer. Stereotypical imaging could alienate men who either do not or do not want to fit into the stereotypical ideal as it is protrayed in the media. Such a portrayal also may have inplications for the potential willingness of men to engage in early detection, avail themselves of treatment, act preventatively, or become involved in lobbying for monies for research into the early prevention, detection, and treatment of prostate cancer.

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