Sexual concerns in cancer patients: a comparison of GI and breast cancer patients
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- Reese, J.B., Shelby, R.A., Keefe, F.J. et al. Support Care Cancer (2010) 18: 1179. doi:10.1007/s00520-009-0738-8
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Although sexual concerns have been examined in breast cancer (BC), these concerns remain understudied and undertreated for patients with gastrointestinal (GI) cancer. Objectives were to: (1) assess sexual concerns in GI cancer patients compared with breast cancer patients; (2) examine whether sexual concerns are stable over time in GI and breast cancer patients; and (3) evaluate whether sexual concerns in GI and breast cancer are significantly associated with quality of life, symptom severity, and disease interference, and whether these associations change over time.
Data were collected from GI and breast cancer patients during four outpatient clinic visits over 6 months. Measures included sexual concerns (reduced sexual enjoyment, interest, or performance), quality of life (FACT-G), symptom severity, disease interference (MD Anderson Symptom Inventory), and disease-related distress (NCCN Distress Scale). Linear mixed model analyses were conducted.
Sexual concerns were common in both samples, with 57% of GI cancer patients and 53% of breast cancer patients reporting at least mild sexual concerns. Sexual concerns were stable over time and were significantly associated with lower levels of functioning in multiple domains (e.g., quality of life, symptom severity, disease interference, and disease-related distress), irrespective of length of time since diagnosis. Cancer type (GI/breast cancer) was not a moderator of this relationship.
Self-reported sexual concerns were common, stable, and related significantly to quality of life, symptom severity, disease interference, and disease-related distress for both GI and breast cancer patients. Limitations and implications for future research are discussed.