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For Breast Cancer Survivors, Sexual Concerns May Last Years

Dec 05, 2017

For the breast cancer group, an average of three years had elapsed since their cancer diagnosis. Half of the women had had chemotherapy; about three-quarters had undergone radiotherapy. Two-thirds had had breast conserving surgery, and the remainder had undergone mastectomy.

Overall, the breast cancer survivors had poorer sexual health. Twenty-eight percent said they were not sexually active, compared to 20% of the women with no history of breast cancer. The primary reason for sexual inactivity was lack of a partner, followed by lack of interest in sex. Women in the breast cancer group were more likely to report discomfort during intercourse.

Low sexual interest was an issue for both groups, although it was more common among the breast cancer survivors. In fact, about 69% of the survivors and 59% of the women with no history of breast cancer met the criteria for hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) – low libido accompanied by distress.

“Our results demonstrate that [sexual health] problems persist into [breast cancer] survivorship and differ significantly from the general population,” the authors wrote.

They added that healthcare providers should address sexual health concerns when treating and counseling cancer survivors.

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