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Sexual Function Affected by Stem Cell Transplant According to Long-Term Study
Date:9/18/2007

WASHINGTON, Sept. 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A long-term study found that a type of stem cell transplant used for patients with life-threatening diseases, such as leukemia and lymphoma, results in decreased sexual function and activity for recipients. Further, males are likely to recover from these changes over time, while the sexuality of female patients remains compromised. In addition, neither male nor female long-term cancer survivors regained levels of sexual activity and function equal to those of their peers who have not had cancer, according to a Blood First Edition Paper prepublished online today. Blood is the official journal of the American Society of Hematology.

"Survival without a sex life should not be what cancer survivors settle for or what health-care professionals consider a successful outcome of cancer treatment," stated lead study author, Karen Syrjala, PhD, co-director of the Survivorship Program at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. "Sexual dysfunction in survivors of cancer needs to become a priority for research funding and a routine topic of discussion between doctors and their patients after cancer treatment."

In an allogeneic hematopoeitic stem cell transplantation, patients with diseases of the blood, bone marrow, or certain types of cancers receive an infusion of new stem cells from a sibling or tissue-matched unrelated donor to replace the damaged or destroyed cells in their bone marrow needed for the production of blood cells. Before the transplant, high-dose chemotherapy is administered to kill residual cancer cells and to suppress the immune system so that the patient's body will not reject the new tissue.

The results of questionnaires on sexual function were reported for 161 patients scheduled to receive this procedure at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. The patients ranged in age from 22-64 years with an average age of 41 and a nearly even split by gender.

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SOURCE American Society of Hematology
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