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Intimacy is often a bit of a taboo subject in our society and none more so than after illness. If your doctor spoke with you unprompted about intimacy after surgery for pseudomyxoma peritonei (or PMP) or appendix cancer, then you’re amongst the lucky ones. If your oncologist spoke with you about the impact of chemotherapy on your libido or even on your partner’s, then that onlcologist’s a keeper. A recent article in the ACOS Post looks at just this topic, specifically addressing sexual dusfunction amoungst cancer survivors.

The article discusses data presented during the 2020 American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) Annual Meeting¹ and talks with lead study author, James M. Taylor, MD, MPH, Chief Resident in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Sidney Kimmel Medical College and Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia. His conclusion is that

The negative effects on sexual health after cancer treatment are unfortunately very tough, and this is not just for patients treated with radiation.

What are your thoughts? How do you feel your treatment impacted your intimate relationships? As a partner of a patient, do you feel that your attitutde has shifted from lover to caregiver? Are these mutually exclusive? We’d love to know what you think about this topic.

Key findings

  • A survey of cancer survivors identified sexual dysfunction in 87% of respondents.
  • Female cancer survivors were found to be significantly less likely to have their sexual dysfunction addressed after cancer treatment compared with men.

¹ Doyle C, Sexual Health: An Issue for Many Survivors of Cancer, December 25th 2020, ASCO Post, retrieved January 2nd 2021

2 Taylor J, Ruggiero M, Maity A, et al: Sexual health toxicity in cancer survivors: Is there a gender disparity in physician evaluation and intervention? 2020 ASTRO Annual Meeting. Abstract 1042.