Men with breast cancer and their encounters with masculinity: An interpretative phenomenological analysis using photography




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American Psychological Association



Peer reviewed



Under-acknowledged clinically and socially, breast cancer in men is a critical health issue, with complex ramifications for those affected. Experiential research exploring men’s meaning making of breast cancer accordingly is scant. In this innovative multi-method inquiry, 31 British men, accessed from both clinical care and community contexts, took photographs to illustrate their breast cancer experiences and discussed these in extended semi-structured interviews. Verbal and photographic data were analysed together using interpretative phenomenological analysis through the emerging ‘visual voice’ paradigm. Findings illuminated both the multiple difficulties men encountered and the coping strategies they employed. In particular, the complex and dynamic ways in which men navigated, made sense of, and performed masculinity through their breast cancer journey was pivotal to understanding these experiences and how they presented their accounts, verbally and visually. Thus, the analysis presented identifies and illustrates three experiential and inter-connected encounters with masculinity: ‘Threatened-exposed’, ‘Protected-asserted’ and ‘Reconsidered-reconfigured’ which are presented both thematically and through a novel schematic representation. We demonstrate how men’s relationships with masculinity shapes their accounts of both the embodied lived experience of breast cancer and how the cancer experience, with its many changes, challenges, and consequences, is communicated to others. How and why men encounter/perform these different masculinities at different points in time across the breast cancer trajectory, and how this aids their adjustment to illness and life post-diagnosis is considered. We conclude with recommendations for improved future breast cancer care and support and suggest future research directions with this community of hitherto under-researched and under-represented men.


The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version.


Breast Cancer, Men, Masculinities, Lived Experiences, Visual Methods


Quincey, K., Williamson, I. and Wildbur, D. (2021) Men with breast cancer and their encounters with masculinity: An interpretative phenomenological analysis using photography. Psychology of Men and Masculinities, 22 (4), pp. 690-703


Research Institute

Institute for Psychological Science