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Eur J Cancer Care (Engl). 2012 Nov;21(6):766-75. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2354.2012.01359.x. Epub 2012 May 11.

The language of prostate cancer treatments and implications for informed decision making by patients.

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Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada.


Previous research has shown that cancer patients lack knowledge about treatments particularly for reproductive system cancers. Focusing on prostate cancer, we explored how the language used to describe treatments and their side effects is understood by both men and women. Since the language around prostate cancer is often euphemised to reduce distress and stigma, our aim was to elucidate how language (e.g. hormone therapy vs. androgen deprivation therapy) affects both patients' and partners' attitudes towards treatment decision making. We surveyed 690 male and female cancer patients and non-patients through an online questionnaire. A large proportion of participants did not understand the terminology used to describe prostate cancer treatments. Most did not know that the terms 'chemical castration', 'hormonal therapy' and 'androgen deprivation' are synonymous. Male respondents stated that they would more readily agree to hormonal therapy than to castration to treat prostate cancer and felt significantly more strongly than women about how androgen deprivation therapy, described in various terms, affected masculinity. Men and women differed substantially in their opinion about the impact of androgen deprivation. For patients and partners to make informed decisions and cope effectively with treatment side effects, it is important that healthcare practitioners provide accurate information using language that is unambiguous.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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