Prostate cancer stories in the Canadian print media: representations of illness, disease and masculinities


Address for correspondence: John Oliffe, University of British Columbia, School of Nursing, 302–6190 Agronomy Road, Vancouver BC, V6T 1Z3 Canada


Despite the popularity of print media as an information source for men with prostate cancer, the representation of prostate cancer within this medium remains relatively understudied. This article details the findings from an analysis of prostate cancer articles published in two Canadian national newspapers, The Globe and Mail and the National Post, from January 2001 through to December 2006. The 817 prostate cancer articles published during this period were retrieved and reviewed using manifest and latent analyses. Three article categories, illness perspectives, medical perspectives and supplementary were identified in the manifest analysis. The latent analysis was guided by the connections between masculinities and prostate cancer in the newspapers’ stories. Findings indicated a low frequency of articles that substantively discussed prostate cancer and that the descriptive content reproduced hegemonic masculine ideals, such as competition and stoicism. The presentation of a truncated illness trajectory and privileging of the curative aspects of biomedicine also depicted medicalised male bodies. Any discussion on the negative effects of treatment or explicit references to marginalised forms of masculinity was conspicuously absent. These findings support how representations of prostate cancer in Canadian newspapers predominately replicate detrimental ideologies and perspectives of men's health.