Couples struggle to cope with prostate cancer

Cancer Council is calling on partners of men with prostate cancer to reach out for support, with research showing partners experience high levels of distress related to the diagnosis of their loved one.

Around 36 per cent of female partners of men diagnosed with prostate cancer experience mild to severe anxiety, with the man’s psychological distress and sexual issues the strongest influencers on the partner’s mental health*.

Research also shows the partners of men diagnosed with prostate cancer have twice the rate of major depression and general anxiety than the average.

Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said it was crucial for partners to seek support for anxiety or distress.

“It is normal for partners of men with prostate cancer to have questions, concerns, fears or confusion about a diagnosis, and what it means for the future,” Ms Clift said.

“Cancer Council Queensland offers support, information, referrals and resources to the partners of those diagnosed with cancer – or simply a listening ear if they need it.

“No one should be afraid to reach out for help with distress or anxiety – Cancer Council exists to help all Queenslanders impacted in any way by a cancer diagnosis.

“In some cases partners may experience apprehension about asking for support when they haven’t been diagnosed with cancer themselves.

“We want to dispel that fear – we’re encouraging all partners of men with prostate cancer who are experiencing distress to get in touch with us for dedicated help and support.”

Half of all men diagnosed with prostate cancer don’t seek support for cancer-related issues, including fears about the future and lack of control of treatment outcomes.

“This is also a reminder for men to seek the support they need to cope with a diagnosis and cancer-related issues,” Ms Clift said.

“It’s clear that the way a man adjusts to a prostate cancer diagnosis influences the outcome of the woman’s overall wellbeing.

“All Queenslanders can get in touch with Cancer Council on 13 11 20, serviced by a dedicated team of healthcare professionals, experienced in cancer care and support.

“Patients and their loved ones can also get referrals to our Cancer Counselling Service from their doctor or via 13 11 20.

Cancer Council’s 13 11 20 is a toll-free landline call from anywhere in Queensland and offers information, resources and connection to support programs and advocacy services for those affected by cancer.

Since January, more than 10,100 calls have been made to Cancer Council’s 13 11 20 throughout Queensland.

More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available via 13 11 20 or

For more information or interviews, please contact:
Katie Clift, Executive Manager, Media and Spokesperson, Cancer Council Queensland
Ph: (07) 3634 5372 or 0409 001 171

*Chambers et al, Couples distress after localised prostate cancer. Supportive Care in Cancer 2013, 21(11):2967 – 2976.