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Sexual Problems Can Persist Two Years After Colorectal Cancer Diagnosis

Sexual Problems Can Persist Two Years After Colorectal Cancer DiagnosisCancer and its treatment can affect sexual health in profound ways, and for colorectal cancer survivors, these effects may continue for two years after diagnosis, according to new research in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.  

In addition, sexual health concerns are not always discussed with healthcare providers, the study authors reported.

Colorectal cancer affects either the colon (the large intestine) or the rectum (the end of the colon). It may be treated with surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or with targeted therapy drugs.

Unfortunately, most men and about half of women with colorectal cancer have sexual difficulties. Patients often cope with incontinence, rectal discharge, and gas. They may have depression, anxiety, and body image concerns, too. For example, some patients have ostomy procedures, which reroute waste through an opening in the body (a stoma) into a special waste collection bag. Some feel self-conscious about their ostomy bag. (Learn more about sexual challenges specific to rectal cancer patients here.)

The study involved 487 colorectal cancer survivors (258 men and 229 women) in France. Their ages ranged from 20 to 84 years. Just under a quarter of the participants had been diagnosed with rectal cancer; the rest had had colon cancer.

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