Sexual activity and quality of life in patients after treatment for breast and ovarian cancer
Sexual activity (SA) and functioning (SF) are important factors influencing quality of life (QoL). Anticancer treatment can cause or promote sexual dysfunctions. In this study we analyzed the SA, SF and QoL in patients after completion of treatment for breast cancer (BC) and ovarian cancer (OC).
In this retrospective multicenter study 396 BC patients and 93 OC patients aged between 18 and 70 years were surveyed at least 24 months after cancer diagnosis and compared to 60 healthy women. Data were collected through validated questionnaires (Sexual Activity Questionnaire, Female Sexual Function Index-d, EORTC Quality of Life Questionnaire-C30).
45.9% of BC patients and 56.5% of OC patients reported SA. SF and well-being of sexually active BC patients were not influenced by the type and radicality of surgery or the administration of chemotherapy. Patients who received antihormonal therapy at the time of evaluation showed a lower frequency of SA (p = 0.007), less satisfaction (p = 0.003) and more discomfort during SA (p = < 0.001) compared to healthy controls but no differences in experiencing orgasms, health status, QoL and global health status. In contrast, BC patients without antihormonal therapy showed only a higher discomfort score (p = 0.028) than healthy controls and estimated their health status and QoL significantly better than patients who received antihormonal therapy (p = 0006). In general, SA was associated with a better health status (p = 0.007), a better QoL (p = 0.004) and a better global health status (p = 0.004) in BC patients. Sexually active OC patients showed no significant differences in SF, QoL and health status compared to healthy controls.
Compared to healthy controls BC patients showed limitations in SF with a lower SA rate and more discomfort. Antihormonal therapy was an important factor influencing SF and well-being. Breast and OC survivors reported good physical and psychical health without differences in QoL and health status compared to controls. This might be explained by a change of perspective on life difficulties and altered priorities through a life threatening disease.
KeywordsQuality of life Sexual activity Sexual function Breast cancer Ovarian cancer
SM protocol/project development, data collection, data analysis, manuscript writing/editing. SI data collection, data analysis. DG data collection, manuscript editing. LS data collection. SM Protocol/project development, data collection. MB data collection, manuscript writing/editing. LW Protocol/project development, data collection, manuscript editing. PJV data collection. GG data collection. AH Protocol/project development, data collection, manuscript writing/editing
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare no potential conlicts of interest.
- 2.Hasenburg A, Schröck R, Schmalfeldt B, Ortmann A (2008) Nachsorge und rehabilitation nach therapie eines ovarialkarzinoms. Onkologe 14:1172–1178Google Scholar
- 5.Ganz PA, Rowland JH, Desmond K, Meyerowitz BE, Wyatt GE (1998) Life after breast cancer: understanding women’s health-related quality of life and sexual functioning. J Clin Oncol 16(2):501–514Google Scholar
- 18.Thirlaway K, Fallowfield L, Cuzick J (1995) The sexual activity questionnaire: a measure of women’s sexual functioning. Qual Life Res 5(1):81–90Google Scholar
- 19.Rosen R, Brown C, Heiman J, Leiblum S, Meston C, Shabsigh R (2000) The female sexual function index (FSFI): a multidimensional self-report instrument for the assessment of female sexual function. J Sex Marital Ther 26(2):191–208Google Scholar
- 20.Aaronson NK, Ahmedzai S, Bergman B, Bullinger M, Cull A, Duez NJ (1993) The European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer QLQ-C30: a quality-of-life instrument for use in international clinical trials in oncology. J Natl Cancer Inst 85(5):365–376Google Scholar
- 22.Candy B, Jones L, Vickerstaff V, Tookman A, King M (2016) Interventions for sexual dysfunction following treatments for cancer in women. In: The Cochrane Library [Internet]. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Verfügbar unter. http://cochranelibrary-wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD005540.pub3/full. zitiert 20. März 2018
- 27.Day R, Ganz PA, Costantino JP, Cronin WM, Wickerham DL, Fisher B (2016) Health-related quality of life and tamoxifen in breast cancer prevention: a report from the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project P-1 study. J Clin Oncol [Internet]. Verfügbar unter. http://ascopubs.org/doi/abs/10.1200/JCO.19188.8.131.5259?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori:rid:crossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub%3dpubmed. zitiert 29 März 2018
- 30.Taylor CLC, Basen-Engquist K, Shinn EH, Bodurka DC (2004) Predictors of sexual functioning in ovarian cancer patients. J Clin 22(5):881–889Google Scholar