In 2021, Prostate Cancer Research (PCR), in partnership with Tackle Prostate Cancer and pharmaceutical company Ipsen, launched a nationwide survey to better understand the experiences faced by people living with prostate cancer, particularly in relation to the challenges patients face with treatment side effects.

On the back of this research we have launched a new campaign, ‘Let’s Talk About the Hard Things’, spearheaded by Good Morning Britain’s Dr Hilary Jones, to break down the taboos surrounding the side effects of prostate cancer treatment and encourage people with prostate cancer to talk about their experiences with friends, family and healthcare professionals.

Our research surveyed over 350 people with prostate cancer and found the following:

Erectile dysfunction is one of the most common side effects, affecting 86 in 100 (86%) men, followed by loss of libido by 79 in 100 (79%). Of those who experienced a loss of libido, roughly 4 in 10 (42%) said their sex drive had “completely diminished” as a result.

Nearly 2 in 3 (60%) of those surveyed suffer with incontinence, with approx. 3 in 4 (73%) saying it affected their quality of life.

These side effects can lead to a loss of confidence and feeling emasculated, and over 1 in 4 (26%) said changes associated with their physicality have directly affected their mental health.

Despite this, people living with prostate cancer feel uncomfortable talking about their side effects and their mental health to the people they have the closest personal relationships to, with only 2 in 100 feeling most comfortable discussing the topic with family and even fewer (1 in 100) with friends.

Unfortunately many men of my generation were taught from a young age to ‘figure it out’ and ‘emotions are for girls’. But talking to your partner, your family and your friends can make the world of a difference. I am so lucky to have a supportive network around me who I can turn to no matter the subject. I urge anyone undergoing treatment, no matter how embarrassing you might feel it is, don’t suffer in silence. Find someone you can trust and speak with them. You won’t regret it.

Brian, Prostate Cancer Patient

We also found that nearly 7 in 10 (69%) feel that speaking to others living with prostate cancer, or having their friends and family understand how they feel, would help them discuss some of the ‘hard’ topics more openly.

This is why we have launched a new series of powerful videos, featuring a diverse range of people affected by prostate cancer, each showcasing a different pairing discussing their experiences of prostate cancer and the side effects of their treatment.

Meet Mark and Karen

Mark is a retired policeman. This wonderful couple are an inspiration to us all. They show how good communication can overcome even the worst side effects that prostate cancer treatment brings. Talking really does help.

Meet Alphonso and Ambrose

Alphonso is a music therapist and Ambrose is a football and boxing agent. Their experiences are an unfortunate reality for so many black men who suffer disproportionately from prostate cancer. They explain how talking to those around you – whether it is your healthcare professional, your family or your friends – can really help.

Meet Henry and Lewis

Henry is a doctor and Lewis works as a product manager. These two gay men first met at Metro Walnut, a LGBTQ prostate cancer patient support group in 2019. Reconnecting a couple of years later they share their experiences of dealing with prostate cancer. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you look like or who you love, talking helps.

If you don't know where to turn or need someone to talk to, there are a range of organisations providing support, including peer support groups, financial advice, nurse helplines, and health information.

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