Questions were raised among 45 women with breast cancer and 52 men with prostate cancer. Additionally, 1053 web postings were obtained through an online poll. This was followed by an examination for specific keywords in the online postings. Two popular forums, www.breastcancercare.org.uk and www.prostate-cancer.org.uk were taken up for examination.
Concerns regarding cancer tests, symptoms, cancer treatments and side effects bothered men the most while women showed an inclination towards seeking emotional and social support. They were eager to share their personal experience and the impact of their cancer on family and relationships.
Surprisingly, most women who had joined the prostate cancer forum had a loved one afflicted with prostate cancer and majority of the men who had joined the breast cancer forum for a similar reason.
The results of this study has some very important implications, highlighting that there is a lacunae in the provision of help men deal with their relationships and feelings while women might be missing out on important medical information. This study has therefore stressed on the need for understanding this gender difference in cancer help.
'We know that not all cancers are the same and that individuals will handle their cancer in different ways, but it is fascinating that Professor Seale's research clearly shows, in general, a gender split in the preferred style of communication. It's obviously important that people affected by cancer are able to participate in forums and chatrooms in a way that suits their individual styles and needs over time,' said Dr Chris Hiley of The Prostate Cancer Charity.
The study results that have been published in the Social Science and Medicine journal could eventually help cancer support groups establish communication that is beneficial to cancer patients.