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Aging masculinity — facing prostate cancer

Louis Braverman

Research Framework: Prostate cancer is an older man’s disease. In France, it is most commonly diagnosed among men of 70 years of age. Very often, this type of cancer involves invasive procedures and affects the lives of many patients.
Objectives: This article studies the lives of men dealing with prostate cancer and aims, more precisely, to examine the intersections between gender, sexuality and aging as related to the experience of having this illness.
Methodology: The study is based on a qualitative research that combines ethnographic fieldwork in hospitals and semi-structured interviews with patients, relatives and professionals.
Results: The results detail two dimensions of prostate cancer experience. The first concerns how men diagnosed with prostate cancer deal with biomedical discourses and practices. The care relationship is described as structured by age and gender. The second dimension of the prostate cancer experience studied in this article looks into the effects of the illness on identity and personal biography. The repercussions affecting the subjective definition of aging as well as gender relations and identifications are presented in their plurality.
Conclusions: Our methodological approach used the intersectionnality of age, gender and sexual norms in the study of the prostate cancer experience. This helped to uncover a better understanding of the tensions involved in this delicate subject.
Contribution: The adoption of intersectionality as a theoretical framework shed a new light on how aging men cope with illness.