In this study, sexual concerns seemed to be related to changes in body image and sexual identity, and the often discrepant sexual needs of patient and their partner. For single people, changes in sexual function resulted in anxiety about entering into future relationships.
"The lack of desire attributed to cancer treatment was associated with feelings of guilt about not supporting the partner among the participants in our study," Prof Koczwara said. With time, many respondents accepted fertility loss but struggled with ongoing impact of changes in sexual function and its impact on their relationships.
Prof Koczwara said there are some good resources available for patients to help them with concerns about fertility and sexuality, but patients in the study indicated interest in more information and resources."
"There appears to be a need for raising awareness of these concerns among cancer professionals and providing them with information and training regarding these concerns," she said.
Prof Ian Olver, CEO of Cancer Council Australia, commented that the presentation by Prof Koczwara highlights a major issue that impacts on the quality of life of people who survive cancer.
"Up to 65% patients diagnosed with cancer are still alive in 5 years, and survival is increasing with better treatments. Until recently the emphasis was on treating the cancer but it is being increasingly recognized that a variety of psychosocial problems and late effects of treatment persist and need to be addressed in this population," Prof Olver said.
"Perhaps the most surprising aspect of Prof Koczwara's study is that issues of fertility are important even to those who have completed their families, which highlights the importance of fertility to a person's identity. The call for greater awareness amongst cancer professionals of sexual and fertility issues should be translated as the need to provide the opportunity
|Contact: Vanessa Pavinato|
European Society for Medical Oncology