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Ambiguity in a masculine world: Being a BRCA1/2 mutation carrier and a man with prostate cancer

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Published online on


Objective Increased risk of prostate cancer (PCa) is observed in men with BRCA1/BRCA2 mutations. Sex and gender are key determinants of health and disease although unequal care exists between the sexes. Stereotypical male attitudes are shown to lead to poor health outcomes. Methods Men with BRCA1/2 mutations and diagnosed with PCa were identified and invited to participate in a qualitative interview study. Data were analysed using a framework approach. “Masculinity theory” was used to report the impact of having both a BRCA1/2 mutation and PCa. Results Eleven of 15 eligible men were interviewed. The umbrella concept of “Ambiguity in a Masculine World” was evident. Men's responses often matched those of women in a genetic context. Men's BRCA experience was described, as “on the back burner” but “a bonus” enabling familial detection and early diagnosis of PCa. Embodiment of PCa took precedence as men revealed stereotypical “ideal” masculine responses such as stoicism and control while creating new “masculinities” when faced with the vicissitudes of having 2 gendered conditions. Conclusion Health workers are urged to take a reflexive approach, void of masculine ideals, a belief in which obfuscates men's experience. Research is required regarding men's support needs in the name of equality of care.