The sexual and other supportive care needs of Canadian prostate cancer patients and their partners: Defining the problem and developing interventions

Deborah L McLeod, Lauren M Walker, Richard J Wassersug, Andrew Matthew, John W Robinson


Prostate cancer (PCa) treatments result in a wide range of short- and long-term survivorship issues not only for men, but also their partners. The effects of treatment vary from urinary incontinence and sexual dysfunction, to psychological, relational and social challenges. Androgen-deprivation therapy contributes as well to serious health risks (e.g., cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis), which must be effectively managed. 

Although there are a myriad of survivorship issues to manage, there are few survivorship programs in Canada to help patients and partners address the outcomes of PCa diagnosis and treatment. However, this is starting to change. Several sites across Canada are participating in developing a range of programs to address the supportive care needs of men with PCa and their partners. In this article, we discuss the issues and the programs that are now emerging to address them. 

Prostate cancer (PCa) patients face a myriad of issues associated with treatment that significantly impact quality of life. The primary localized and potentially curative PCa treatments are radical prostatectomy and radiation treatment (in the form of brachytherapy or external beam radiation). Systemic therapies such as androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) are also common. Although patients and their partners experience significant physical and psychosocial impacts from such treatments, support to address these issues is limited and inconsistently in Canadian cancer centres.

A number of Canadian cancer centres have been working diligently over the past six years to improve the supportive care offered to PCa patients and their partners. Two examples of these programs will be discussed, one focusing on sexual dysfunction arising from localized treatment for PCa and the second, addressing adaptation to androgen deprivation therapy.

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