New sexual healthcare guidelines in prostate cancerImage by: Movember
31 January 2023

Closing the care gap on World Cancer Day

5 minutes read time

Everyone deserves equal access to cancer care. But even though we're living in a time of amazing advancements in cancer prevention, diagnosis, and care, the reality is that who you are and where you live dictates the quality of care you receive.

Movember is on a mission to change that. To mark World Cancer Day 2023 on February 4th, we're highlighting some of the work we're doing to improve outcomes for all men and help to close the equity gap.

Globally, prostate cancer the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in men. More than 1,410,000 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2019.

We not only want to see a future where fewer men die from male cancers, but we also want to see fewer men suffering life-changing side effects due to their treatment.

At Movember, we believe we have an obligation to act upon what matters most to these men and their partners. We know from previous research that sexual health is a huge unmet need but unfortunately, it is a problem that is not routinely addressed in prostate cancer care.

According to Movember-funded research published in The Lancet Oncology in 2019, 57 per cent of men were not offered any help at all with sexual dysfunction, following their treatment[i]. Left untreated, it can strain relationships, contribute to relationship breakdowns, and affect mental and emotional wellbeing.

That is why we’re proud to have supported the development of new clinical practice guidelines aimed at improving sexual healthcare in prostate cancer.

The Guidelines for Sexual Health Care for Prostate Cancer Patients: Recommendations of an International Panel, published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, are the result of a collaboration by an international panel of 37 healthcare professionals and prostate cancer survivors and their partners, across 14 countries.

The 47 statements and recommendations of the panel provide an expert opinion-based framework that introduce a new standard of excellence for sexual health care in prostate cancer.

Dr. Andrew Matthew, Psychologist, Lead of Surgical Oncology and Supportive Care at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, and one of the authors of the guidelines said: “The guidelines will play a pivotal role in helping to close a significant gap in the provision of patient-centred prostate cancer care. The majority of patients treated for prostate cancer experience compromised sexual function and related loss in their overall quality of life.

“These guidelines provide an essential blueprint for empowering patients and practitioners to improve the quality of patient care and reduce variability in service delivery worldwide.”

The aim is to support healthcare teams to assess and manage the sexual side effects of prostate cancer therapies and facilitate shared decision-making between clinicians, patients, and their partners.

It’s vital that clinicians feel confident and adequately equipped to talk about sexual issues and set realistic expectations early on if men are to feel properly prepared for the potential impact of their treatment and given appropriate guidance, information, and support.

For too long sexual health research in prostate cancer has focused on white, heterosexual men. Healthcare teams need to understand how to shape the care of individuals to make it truly personalized. That’s why the new guidelines recognize and take account of cultural, ethnic, racial, sexual and gender diversity when delivering care.

The guidelines were informed not only by analysis of 25 years of scientific research and expert opinion, but also by listening to the experiences of people with prostate cancer and their partners.

During this process, we heard from men whose lives had been shattered following their prostate cancer treatment – men like Movember ambassador Elvin Box who says the fallout nearly destroyed his 41-year marriage.

“If only the guidelines had been there for me,” he says. “They have been so needed for generations, and if they’re now taken up and used by healthcare professionals, it will help so many men faced with the trauma of dealing with prostate cancer to make an informed decision about their choice of treatment and how they can rehabilitate.”

Other work Movember is doing to improve cancer outcomes for all men and help to close the equity gap includes challenging social norms surrounding masculinity. This makes some men less willing to talk about their health or see a doctor when the need to. When it comes to cancer, early detection saves lives. We're working to shift outdated attitudes and get more men to take charge of their own health. Tell me more.

Racism has a profound effect on someone's ability to access cancer care. Black men are twice as likely as other men to be diagnosed with prostate cancer, yet they have been historically under-represented in scientific and clinical research. 

Movember is working to increase diversity in research to better understand racial disparities in the disease and improve outcomes for Black men. Tell me more.

People living in rural areas frequently have their cancer diagnosed at a later stage and are less likely to receive appropriate treatment and follow-up care. Movember's True North program is helping to overcome some of those barriers by giving men the information they need to make informed decisions about their treatment and recovery regardless of where they live. Know someone impacted by prostate cancer? Let them know about

Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in young men. Survival rates are high - but many guys are left feeling isolated, anxious, and uneasy about what the future holds. Nuts & Bolts provides user-friendly information and support to handle their cancer journey from diagnosis to treatment, to life afterwards with confidence. Tell me more.

Over the past 20 years, we’ve seen some incredible advancements in the testing, treatment, and early detection of male cancers. Medical interventions like PSMA PET scans and Lu-PSMA will help men living with prostate cancer live longer lives, with far fewer and less severe side effects. Your support helps us fund lifesaving programs like this.


[i] Quality of Life in Men Living with Advanced and Localised Prostate Cancer: A UK population-wide patient-reported outcome study of 30,000 men – The Lancet Oncology, January 2019.