Couples Cancer Study

Helen M Conaglen, Leanne K Tyrie, Michael Holmes, Ralph M van Dalen, John V Conaglen,

Sexual Health Research Unit, Waikato Clinical School< University of Auckland, Waikato Hospital, Hamilton


Prostate(PCa) and colon (CCa) cancers are two most commonly registered cancers in New Zealand, and are the second and third leading causes of death in men. Treatment options for PCa range from acyive surveillance, to surgery or radiotherapy (either brachytherapy or external beam radiotherapy), or some combination of these therapies. Similarly, for CCa options include surgery, radiotherapy, or chemotherapy and combinations of these therapies. However, patients with PCa may undergo androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) in addition to other options. The two cancer types thus afford an opportunity for comparison of the relative impact on men of each of the therapy in terms of the impact of hormone ablation. Additionally, treatment options for both cancer types have significant psychosocial impacts not only on the patients, but also on their partners.

The health related quality of life (HRQoL) outcomes for these various treatment options have not been quantified in terms of the impact on a couple.



This pilot study aimed to investigate the impact on health related outcomes, sexual function and spousal experiences for both partners from diagnosis at baseline through various treatment options for the first three months. The pilot study findings will inform further longitudinal study to enable development of salient and effective interventions for couples faced with these issues.



The pilot study was a prospective three month investigation planning to follow 20 recruited couples from baseline, through therapy. Participants completed questionnaires at each time-point. Questionnaires included the validated measures of quality of life in prostate cancer or colon cancer as appropriate. measures of stress, depression, anxiety, sexual function and intimacy. In addition interviews were conducted with some of the couples.

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