Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




The purpose of this phenomenological study was to gain an understanding of the lived experience of being a male diagnosed with breast cancer. With almost 200,000 cases of breast cancer diagnosed annually in the United States, a fact often overlooked is that approximately one percent of the newly-diagnosed patients are male. Because of their small numbers, however, very little is known about how males are affected by a diagnosis of breast cancer. In order to provide holistic nursing care to affected men and their families, it is important that nurses have an understanding of the male experience with breast cancer.

The study aim was accomplished by conducting a semi-structured interview with men who had been diagnosed with breast cancer at least one year, but not more than five years prior to the interview. Interviews continued until data saturation was reached. Six men were included in the study.

This qualitative research involved phenomenology, allowing the researcher to collect data according to the views of the men themselves. The study was framed on the philosophy of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, a French philosopher who viewed the human body as the avenue through which one interacts with and adapts to the world. The study framework also included the Health Belief Model, which allowed investigation of male help-seeking behavior during the breast cancer experience.

Findings of the study included the emergence of the following ten major themes: (1) Breast cancer was something to take in stride—deal with it and get on with life; (2) Humor and the quest for normalcy helped with coping; (3) Breast cancer served as a wake-up call and brought with it a sense of vulnerability; (4) Body image was minimally affected; (5) Negative outcomes were challenges; (6) Positive outcomes were blessings; (7) Changes in time perception were subtle and may have been unrelated to the breast cancer experience; (8) Social and spiritual support was meaningful throughout the breast cancer experience; (9) Delay in seeking treatment was multi-factorial; and (10) Availability of more information would have contributed to increased autonomy.

Included in

Psychology Commons