Breast cancer and hair loss: Experiential similarities and differences in men and women's narratives
Background: There are relatively few studies comparing men and women’s breast cancer experiences. Furthermore, men’s experiences of cancer treatment-induced alopecia have received scant academic attention compared to those of women. Objective: To explore experiences of treatment-induced alopecia in both sexes and highlight ways in which they might be supported when undergoing breast cancer treatment. Methods: Qualitative interviews and photographic data taken from two separate experiential inquiries were analysed together, focussing on references made to treatment-induced alopecia in women’s and men’s breast cancer accounts. Results: Hair loss was described as distressing by both sexes, affecting gendered identities and relationships. Men typically discussed losing body hair, whereas women rarely referred to body hair explicitly, underlining gendered aspects of their experiences. Differences were noted in coping strategies, with men using humour and asserting their masculinity. Women were better able to disguise hair loss, while men were forced to reveal their hairlessness. Conclusions: The findings contribute a nuanced understanding of the experience of treatment-induced alopecia for both men and women, which will help to improve their care during cancer treatment. Implications for Practice: Healthcare professionals should provide information about the possible implications of cancer-related alopecia for identities and social relationships for both sexes. Highlighting marked gender differences in cancer-related hair loss, advice and support specific to men’s needs would be particularly beneficial, enabling greater gender equality in clinical practice. Understanding the coping strategies employed by both sexes in relation to hair loss will help healthcare professionals to identify and address any underlying patient distress.
The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version
Citation : Trusson, D., and Quincey, K. (2019) Breast cancer and hair loss: Experiential similarities and differences in men and women's narratives. Cancer Nursing,
ISSN : 0162-220X
Research Institute : Institute for Psychological Science
Peer Reviewed : Yes