Many men of working age are diagnosed with prostate cancer (PC) and choose radical prostatectomy (RP) as their treatment. However, men who undergo RP can experience side effects that reduce their ability to work. Reduced ability to work post-RP is problematic for many men, particularly when it negatively impacts their income and/or changes work-related benefits including loss of extended health insurance. The objective of this qualitative study was to theorize about the connections between PC, RP and work. This study was organized around three research questions: 1. How does screening and diagnosis of prostate cancer affect men and their work? 2. How are participants’ work-related experiences affected following radical prostatectomy? 3. What work-related recommendations do participants have for patients considering radical prostatectomy?

Digitally recorded, in-depth, one-on-one interviews were conducted by Wellam Yu Ko with twenty-four English speaking men who were working at the time of prostate cancer diagnosis and subsequently underwent radical prostatectomy. Constructivist grounded theory methods guided collection and analysis of the data.

Although data analysis is ongoing, preliminary findings suggest that work plays an important role in men’s lives as an activity that allows them to provide for their families. However, PC diagnosis is a threat to men’s health and lives, who view treatment a means of ensuring survival. Men choose RP because they understand it is the best treatment option given their particular circumstances. Although RP side-effects disrupted men’s ability to work, most resumed work within three months of surgery. To most participants, returning to pre-surgical levels of work-productivity became a goal in their recovery. In this process, many men focused their efforts at regaining urinary control and recovering physical fitness required to return to work post-RP as having a positive influence in their overall recovery. Recommendations for research and practice are provided.

This project is led by Wellam Yu Ko, a Doctoral Candidate with Men’s Health Research. His research explores the connections between surgical treatment for prostate cancer and men’s work using qualitative, grounded theory methods. As a registered nurse, Wellam participates actively in promoting awareness of prostate cancer-related issues in the local Chinese community through the Richmond Chinese Prostate Cancer Networking Group.