Sex and Cancer
This is a report from The Oncologist abot sexuality for women during and after breast cancer. As longterm readers of this blog know, this is a common topic for me--and for all the women with whom I speak, individually and in groups, during the day. For most of us, sex is not at the very top of our worry list at the time of diagnosis (although I have known a few women for whom it was indeed the #1 concern), but it becomes important as time passes. A diagnosis and treatment for cancer is never a sexual aide or stimulant, but most people adapt and find a way to sustain intimacy and satisyfying sexual relationships. It is strking how infrequently this topic is discussed by our doctors; my hunch is that many of them experience some degree of discomofort or feel ill-informed about the topic. Additionally, there are so many other issues that must be discussed during an appointment that, unless the patient brings it up, sex may not make the list.
Here is the abstract and then a link to read more:
If I Am in the Mood, I Enjoy It: An Exploration of Cancer-Related Fatigue and Sexual Functioning in Women with Breast Cancer
KATE WEBBER,a,b KELLY MOK,a BARBARA BENNETT,a,b ANDREW R. LLOYD,b MICHAEL FRIEDLANDER,a,c ILONA JURASKOVA,d DAVID GOLDSTEIN,a,c ON BEHALF OF THE FOLCAN STUDY GROUP
ABSTRACT Background. We recently reported that cancer-related fatigue (CRF) after adjuvant breast cancer therapy was prevalent and disabling, but largely self-limiting within 12 months. The current paper describes sexual func- tioning (SF) and its relationship to CRF, mood disorder, and quality of life (QOL) over the first year after com- pletion of adjuvant therapy.
Methods. Women were recruited after surgery, but prior to commencing adjuvant treatment, for early- stage breast cancer. Self-reported validated question- naires assessed SF, CRF, mood, menopausal symptoms, disability, and QOL at baseline, completion of therapy, and at 6 months and 12 months after treatment.
Results. Of the 218 participants, 92 (42%) com- pleted the SF measure (mean age, 50 years). They were significantly younger, more likely to be part- nered, and less likely to be postmenopausal than non-
responders. At baseline, 40% reported problems with sexual interest and 60% reported problems with physical sexual function. SF scores declined across all domains at the end of treatment, then improved but remained below baseline at 12 months, with a signif- icant temporal effect in the physical SF subscale and a trend for overall satisfaction. There were significant correlations between the SF and QOL domains (phys- ical and emotional health, social functioning, and gen- eral health) as well as overall QOL. The presence of mood disorder, but not fatigue, demographic, or treatment variables, independently predicted worse overall sexual satisfaction.
Conclusions. Sexual dysfunction is common after breast cancer therapy and impacts QOL. Interventions should include identification and treatment of concom- itant mood disorder. The Oncologist 2011;16:000 - 000
PS If you want to read it and have trouble accessing the full article, please email me, and I will send it to you: firstname.lastname@example.org