Sexual health and needs for sexology care in digestive cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy: a 4-month cross-sectional study in a French University Hospital

  • Thierry Almont
  • Corinne Couteau
  • Hélène Etienne
  • Pierre Bondil
  • Rosine Guimbaud
  • Leslie Schover
  • Éric Huyghe
Original Article



To assess sexual health and needs for sexology care of cancer patients during chemotherapy.


We performed a 4-month cross-sectional study in cancer patients treated by chemotherapy in the digestive cancer department of a regional university hospital. Patients were asked to fill out a self-administered questionnaire about their sexual health, Sexual Quality of Life Questionnaire for Male (SQoL-M) or Female (SQoL-F), and their needs for sexology care.


The study sample was composed of 47 men and 31 women. Tumor locations were 36 colorectal (46%), 23 pancreatic (30%), and 19 other digestive cancers (24%). SQoL scores were lower in women (p < .001), in pancreatic and colorectal tumors (p = .041 and p = .033, respectively) compared to other digestive cancers, and in less-educated patients (p = .023). During chemotherapy, 40% of sexually active patients had less frequent sexual intercourse than before diagnosis, and 33% had completely stopped sexual activity. Sexuality care was desired by 44% of respondents. Among them, 83% favored a consultation with a medical sexologist and 63% with a psycho-sexologist, 54% wanted couple therapy, and 31% considered support groups. Patients with colorectal cancer had more frequent sexual intercourse without penetration at the time of survey (p = .036) and more often wanted couple therapy than patients with pancreatic cancer (p = .048).


This study is the first determination of sexual health and sexual quality of life in digestive cancers. Targets for interventions during chemotherapy for digestive cancers include populations with lower sexual quality of life: women, pancreatic sites, patients with sexual troubles during chemotherapy, and less-educated patients.


Oncosexology Sexual health Chemotherapy Digestive cancer Quality of life Supportive care 



We gratefully acknowledge Dr. Deslandres Marion and Dr. Anne-Pascale Laurenty for their valuable insights for implementing this study and particularly the oncology teams of the Digestive Cancer Department who helped in the recruitment.

Compliance with ethical standards

Each patient was given a verbal explanation of the study by TA and signed a written informed consent. The study was approved by the French Advisory Committee for Data Processing in Health Research (CCTIRS) under the number 16.037.

Conflict of interest

The study was methodologically supported by the University Cancer Center of Toulouse (University Hospital of Rangueil), the Cancer Network of Midi-Pyrénées (ONCOMIP), the Association of Coordinators of the French Cancer Networks (ACORESCA), the joint group of the Federative Group of French Cancer Centers (UNICANCER) and the French Association for Supportive Care (AFSOS), and the French Education and Research Group of Andrology, Urology, and Sexology (GEFRAUS).

This project was granted by the French National League Against Cancer (PhD grant no. TDTJ12441 — 2013e2016). The authors report having no financial relationship with the organization that sponsored the research. The authors also declare having full control of all primary data and agree to allow the journal to review their data if requested.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.EA 3694 Human Fertility Research Group, Université Toulouse 3 Paul Sabatier, CHU Toulouse Paule de Viguier - Reproductive Medicine DepartmentToulouse cedex 9France
  2. 2.French Education and Research Group in Andrology, Urology and Sexology (GEFRAUS), CHU Toulouse Paule de Viguier - Reproductive Medicine DepartmentToulouse cedex 9France
  3. 3.Digestive Cancer DepartmentCHU Toulouse (IUCT-Rangueil-Larrey)Toulouse cedex 9France
  4. 4.Francophone Association for Supportive Care (AFSOS)BèglesFrance
  5. 5.Will2Love, LLCHoustonUSA

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