In this context, it is very important for patients and oncologists to seek help from healthcare professionals specialised in sexual health, Droupy said.
Another important step is for doctors and patients to have open and honest discussions about what the patient is going through, Luca Incrocci, a radiation oncologist and sexologist from Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, said at the special session.
"We know that sexuality is important for quality of life and marital relationships, yet healthcare professionals frequently avoid taking the sexual history of a cancer patient," Incrocci said.
"Of course this is a difficult subject to deal with, for patients and for healthcare providers, but this should not stop us from doing what we can to improve the situation." said Incrocci.
Starting a discussion about this issue at the beginning of the cancer treatment is a vital first step, he said. This can help doctors to evaluate previous sexual dysfunction and motivation to keep an active sexual life, and to help patients understand what the consequences of the treatment might be.
As cancer treatment is underway, clinicians should be willing to provide solutions to the patients and couples when sexual difficulties appear, and to organise specialised help with sexual issues in parallel with management of the cancer.
Therapeutic care might include pharmacotherapy and sex therapy, Droupy said. It is also important that partners are involved in the process, as this optimises the chances of healing and improvement.
"Whatever the clinical situation, reconstructing sexual function can significantly improve a cancer pati
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European Society for Medical Oncology