Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men and treatments can lead to a number of physical and emotional challenges. In Northern Ireland there are over 8,000 men living with and after prostate cancer and there are over 330,000 men living with the disease UK wide. More than three-quarters (76 per cent) of those who have had treatment for prostate cancer report experiencing erectile dysfunction.

Now, researchers at Ulster University are set to lead a £430,000 pioneering international research programme in the UK, the US and Canada, which aims to improve the sexual health of men, and their partners, after a prostate cancer diagnosis.

Ulster University’s new three-year study will see the creation of three new flexible support packages designed to address individual needs and empower men and their partners to manage their sexual health challenges prior to and after treatment.

The resources include a web-based sexual recovery programme for men and their partners, an engagement tool to ensure quality communication between health professionals and men and partners, and an online sexual health training programme for health professionals caring for men living with prostate cancer.

The research will be led by Professor Eilís McCaughan at Ulster University’s Institute of Nursing and Health Research alongside colleagues from the Northern Ireland Cancer Centre at Belfast City Hospital; Ninewells Hospital, Dundee; University of Surrey; University of Southampton; University of Michigan; and University of Toronto.

‘Sexual dysfunction experienced by men after prostate cancer treatment can have a devastating effect on them as individuals and on their relationships,’ said Professor McCaughan. ‘Men are often reluctant to discuss personal sexual issues and there is also evidence that health professionals have limited time available to provide necessary levels of care and support for men and their partners. The results of this new research will provide much needed guidance and help restore sexual health to a level of satisfaction for both the man and his partner. The new resources we develop will provide them both with crucial need-to-know information on the possible consequences of the different forms of treatment and where to seek information and support to self-manage their condition.’

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