Father-adult son communication about prostate cancer and prostate cancer risk


There has been limited research into what fathers tell their sons (and sons tell their fathers) about prostate cancer and risk for contracting this disorder, and the degree of this risk can be complicated by a variety of factors.

A PhD candidate at George Mason University here in the US is currently studying this issue in relation to her doctoral dissertation, and she would appreciate it if as many men as possible (from anywhere in the world) would be willing to respond to a survey on this topic.

To begin the relatively straightforward survey, just click here.

After completing this questionnaire you will have the chance to enter a raffle to win one of two $50 Amazon.com electronic gift cards. You will also have the option to state your interest in participating in the second part of the study, which involves providing a written description of a memorable time communicating about prostate cancer/family risk of prostate cancer with your father/son and an interview.

And, as a little background, the PhD candidate does have a vested interest.

Her own husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer a few years ago, which followed his father’s and his uncle’s diagnoses. You can imagine what might be on her own mind because she and her husband have two sons. She has been a registered dietitian/nutritionist for 15 years, but prostate cancer’s unwelcome appearance has inspired her to seek a PhD in health/risk communication. She is especially interested in family communication and wants to make sure that the scientific community understands what men need in terms of communicating with their non-spousal/partner family members about prostate cancer and family-related risk. Because sons with a diagnosed father have a higher risk of prostate cancer when compared to the general population, she is starting her prostate cancer/risk communication research there, with fathers and sons.

She also writes that

even if you have not said a word to your son or your father about your diagnosis or experiences, that is important information, too. In other words, your participation in my study would be meaningful whether you talk a lot, very little, or not at all with your father or your son. And even if you decide to only participate in the questionnaire and not the second part, the interview, I would still be grateful!

This is my dissertation study, so thank you in advance for helping me get closer to my doctorate and to helping other families with a variety of backgrounds. Please feel free to pass this along as widely as you wish! It is greatly appreciated.

7 Responses

  1. Regrettably I don’t seem to be able to get to the survey/questionnaire via the link provided in your text. It takes me to a G-mail site but I can’t find anything relevant there. Help?

  2. Reed:

    The link to the survey has been corrected. My apologies for the problem.

  3. I would have been overwhelmed to tell my sons the dangers that they faced had I been diagnosed with prostate cancer, I feel it’s a parent’s responsibility to inform his/her sons/daughters of all his or her health problems that prove to be hereditary.

  4. Please relay to your researcher that I’m a GMU alumnus, am local, and would be more than happy to answer further questions.

  5. Me and two of my three brothers have been diagnosed with prostate cancer. But our father is 93 years old and very healthy with no elevated PSA or prostate cancer!

  6. I waited until I had a treatment plan and deep background on the disease, including other associated familial risks, since my mother, father, and sister all died of cancer at young ages. (Only my brother and I are left living.)

    I gathered my son and daughter and her husband together and told them at the same time about my diagnosis, the current survival prognosis, and the risks for them (at the time we suspected BRCA, which turned out to be negative). I told my stepdaughter and stepson-in-law in a different setting since they live farther away. I have filled out the survey and hope it helps. My son is the executor on my health care directive should I outlive my wife. We’ve been open with our children about everything except the devastating sexual side effects and some of the difficult emotional side effects, as the former would make them uncomfortable and the latter are transitory.

  7. Simply because my son is a man, by the time he reaches age 50 he has roughly a 50% likelihood (increasing roughly 10% per decade) of having at least some minor form of prostate cancer (reference the Wayne County/Detroit Medical Examiner’s autopsy study of men of all ages who died in accidents) … family heredity has only a small additional influence.

    I’ve given stronger words of wisdom to him about being cautious of over-treatment for minor, incidental prostate cancer findings.

    It’s important and valuable for him (and all men) to clearly understand the big picture and its full ramifications: prostate cancer is one of the most common and least lethal of all cancers.

    BTW, I have completed the research survey.

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