The ball's in our court: The development of sport-specific supportive care programming for testicular cancer survivors

  • Anika R Gentile Department of Exercise Sciences, University of Toronto
  • Daniel Santa Mina Department of Exercise Sciences, University of Toronto
  • Andrew G Matthew Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network
  • Robert Hamilton Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network
  • Catherine M Sabiston Department of Exercise Sciences, University of Toronto

Abstract

Testicular cancer is the most common cancer diagnosis in men aged 18 to 39 years. Although treatments have advanced, age appropriate supportive care targeting the management of challenging side-effects have yet to be developed. Physical activity (PA) has been shown to be safe and effective in improving health and well-being, yet integration into supportive care plans has yet to occur. Since the physical, emotional, and social benefits of PA are well known, sport programs may offer unique foundations for supportive care for testicular cancer survivors. As such, there exists an opportunity to build sustainable partnerships between cancer centres and existing sport programs. The main purpose of this study was to explore the feasibility of a sport-specific supportive care program for men with testicular cancer. Preliminary semi-structured interviews were held with key clinical and local sport stakeholders and patient end-users to identify enablers and barriers to involvement, feasibility, interest and required support for development and delivery. Data were analyzed using thematic content analysis, and emergent themes included: need for specialized programming; interest and support for a sport-specific care plan; athlete and trainer specific mentoring was available and important; desirable peer mentoring models; and sport program specifics (e.g., competition, technique, strategy). Given these findings, a peer mentoring sport program connecting varsity athletes to men with testicular cancer will be developed and tested for improvements in perceptions of care, quality of life, and well-being. The long-term goal is to build partnerships between local cancer clinics and sport organizations for improvements in personalized supportive care programming.

Acknowledgments: This research is supported by a Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education Internal Grant.