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Sexual dysfunction following surgery for rectal cancer: a single-institution experience


Although much focus is placed on oncological outcomes for rectal cancer, it is important to assess quality of life after surgery of which sexual function is an important component. This study set about to describe the prevalence of sexual dysfunction by resection type and gender among patients undergoing surgery for rectal cancer, usingretrospective analysis. All English-speaking living patients who underwent surgery for stage I–III rectal cancer with curative intent between 2012 and 2016 were identified from a prospectively maintained database at our institution. Eligible patients were invited to complete either the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) or the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF). Primary outcomes were overall rates of sexual dysfunction, defined as more than one standard deviation below the mean of the normal population for each tool. A total of 147 patients responded, yielding a response rate of 38%. The overall sexual dysfunction rate was 70% at a median time from surgery of 38 months. Sixty-two men (62%) and 41 women (87%) reported overall scores that fell below one standard deviation of the population mean. There was no significant difference in sexual dysfunction for both male and female patients between low anterior resection, coloanal anastomosis, or abdominoperineal resection.. The present study revealed a high rate of sexual dysfunction after rectal cancer surgery, particularly in female patients. This study serves as a reminder to surgeons and their teams to openly discuss the impact of surgery on sexual function and ensure adequate consent and appropriate peri-operative management strategies. The retrospective nature of the analysis is the limitation of this study.

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This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or non-profit sectors. This original study has not been published, presented, or submitted to any other journal.

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Correspondence to Scott R. Kelley.

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Perry, W.R.G., Abd El Aziz, M.A., Duchalais, E. et al. Sexual dysfunction following surgery for rectal cancer: a single-institution experience. Updates Surg (2021).

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  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Colorectal surgery
  • Functional outcomes