New drugs that target specific molecular mechanisms of cancer have improved the treatment of cancer patients in recent years, but those benefits may come with a cost to the patient's sex life, researchers have found.
At the 35th Congress of the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) in Milan, Italy, French researchers reported on one of the few studies to investigate the impact of cancer therapy on the sexual functioning of patients.
Dr Yohann Loriot and Dr Thomas Bessede from Institut Gustave Roussy in Villejuif, France and colleagues found that patients taking targeted therapies had significantly decreased levels of sexual function and satisfaction.
"The new molecular targeted therapies have been available for 6 or 7 years and researchers and physicians have observed some new side-effects not often reported with chemotherapy such as cutaneous side-effects and gastro-intestinal toxicity. But very few studies have been conducted in the field of sexuality, mainly because patients are not willing to talk with their physicians on this topic," Dr Loriot said.
The researchers surveyed 51 patients (40 men and 11 women) who had been taking molecular targeted therapies for more than three months without progressive disease about changes in their sexual life.
The drugs involved were sunitinib, sorafenib, temsirolimus, everolimus, bevacizumab, tarceva and cetuximab. Men completed the International Index of Erectile Function (IEEF) questionnaire --which includes questions on erectile function, intercourse satisfaction, orgasmic function, sexual desire and overall satisfaction.
Women in the study completed the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) questionnaire, which includes questions on desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction and pain.
The median overall IIEF score for men was 40, just 53% of the maximum score. For women, the median FSFI score was 8.4, just 24% of the maximum.
|Contact: Vanessa Pavinato|
European Society for Medical Oncology