Prostate Cancer From a Sex and Gender Perspective: A Review

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Sex Med Rev. 2021 Jun 6:S2050-0521(21)00010-X. doi: 10.1016/j.sxmr.2021.03.001. Online ahead of print.


INTRODUCTION: Factors influencing patient behavior regarding risk of prostate cancer (PCa) and outcomes of PCa treatments are poorly understood. Similarly, how PCa treatments affect patient sexual function and sense of their masculinity has not been fully investigated. A better understanding of the relationship between sex and gender for patients with PCa could significantly improve their care and quality of life.

OBJECTIVES: To review how concerns about sex and gender influence men’s attitudes toward PCa screening, diagnosis, and treatment. To explore how PCa influences sexual function and self-perceived masculine identity. To examine contexts for PSA screening for transgender individuals.

METHODS: We reviewed biomedical and sociological literature exploring the impact of PCa on patient sexual function and self-perceived masculinity using OVID, PubMed, and other databases. We similarly reviewed how masculine gender norms influence patient willingness to engage with PCa screening, diagnoses, and treatment.

RESULTS: Gender norms and sexual function concerns influence patient engagement in all aspects of PCa care. This includes PSA screening, digital rectal examinations, active surveillance, and androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) amongst others. ADT is particularly challenging to sexual function, self-esteem, and masculine identity. Our research suggests that sex and gender are not separate concepts, but rather tightly intertwined, particularly when dealing with the realities experienced by patients with PCa.

CONCLUSION: Interventions to help patients deal with the challenges of PCa and its treatment are likely to be most effective if they concurrently address patients’ sexual needs and understanding of gender norms. PSA screening should be considered for transgender individuals who are at greater risk of cancer and on long-term hormone therapy. More research is needed on how concerns over sex and gender influence PCa screening, diagnosis, and treatment. There is also a need for long term data on the oncological outcomes of prolonged exposure to hormone therapy for patients who are transgender. Muermann MM, Wassersug RJ. Prostate Cancer From a Sex and Gender Perspective: A Review. Sex Med Rev 2021;XX:XXX-XXX.

PMID:34108132 | DOI:10.1016/j.sxmr.2021.03.001