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Sexuality and cancer in adolescents and young adults - a comparison between reproductive cancer patients and patients with non-reproductive cancer

Authors
  • Mütsch, Julian
  • Friedrich, Michael
  • Leuteritz, Katja
  • Sender, Annekathrin
  • Geue, Kristina
  • Hilbert, Anja
  • Stöbel-Richter, Yve
Type
Published Article
Journal
BMC Cancer
Publisher
Springer (Biomed Central Ltd.)
Publication Date
Aug 22, 2019
Volume
19
Issue
1
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1186/s12885-019-6009-2
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
Green

Abstract

BackgroundSexuality is an important aspect of quality of life for adolescent and young adults that remains understudied in cancer patients. Most current knowledge about how cancer and cancer treatments can affect patients’ sexuality pertains to reproductive cancer patients (breast, gynecological, male reproductive organs), whereas only little is known about how the disease affects the sex lives of patients with other types of cancer. This study examined sexual satisfaction and sexual supportive care needs among adolescent and young adult cancer patients, with a particular focus on how the type of cancer a person has is associated with these issues differently.MethodsFive hundred seventy-seven (n = 424 females, 73.5%) patients between 18 and 39 years of age at diagnosis and representing all major tumor entities completed the standardized questionnaire. The analysis addressed the following topics: sexual satisfaction (Life Satisfaction Questionnaire), sexual supportive care needs (Supportive Care Needs Survey), and changes in sexuality (Questions on Life Satisfaction Modules). These topics were tested by mean differences between reproductive and non-reproductive cancer, equivalence testing and regression analyses.ResultsAbout one third of the patients reported being dissatisfied with their sexuality and having supportive care needs in this area. Changes in sexuality were significantly more common in women with reproductive cancers than in those who had other types of cancer (t = − 2.693, p = .007), while both groups had equivalence in scores for sexual satisfaction and sexual supportive care needs. Reproductive cancers are not more associated with deterioration of sexual satisfaction (R2 = .002, p = .243), changes in sexuality (R2 = .006, p = .070) or increased sexual supportive care needs than non-reproductive cancers (R2 = .004, p = .131).ConclusionsThe results indicate that about a third of adolescents and young adults with both reproductive but also with non-reproductive cancer experience sexual dissatisfaction in similar measure. An equal percentage of these patients also express a desire to receive supportive care in this area. Consequently, health care professionals should address issues of sexuality and cancer as a matter of routine when caring for young adults even when patients have a non-reproductive cancer.

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