Sexual Medicine in the Management of Older Gynecologic Cancer Patients

  • Cara Stabile
  • Rebecca Steed
  • Jeanne CarterEmail author


Although rates of sexual activity and function have been noted to decline over time in gynecologic cancer populations, it is important not to presume that sexuality is an insignificant aspect of life for older adults. The sexual and vaginal health impact of cancer treatment can be devastating for women of all ages. Disease type, stage of disease, and type of treatment can contribute to vaginal atrophy and sexual difficulties in female cancer patients, and particular gynecologic cancer diagnoses may present their own unique challenges. Regardless of the type or extent of surgery, surgical scars are constant reminders of a woman’s cancer experience and can influence her view of herself. Unfortunately, the epidemiology of sexual dysfunction in female cancer populations has not been extensively studied, and future clinical trials focusing on age, race, ethnicity, and treatment factors are needed. Vaginal health issues are especially problematic for all women with advancing age; however, there are many simple strategies to alleviate vaginal estrogen deprivation symptoms, but this information needs to be delivered to our patients. Maintaining overall vaginal health is crucial for comfort, especially since gynecological and pelvic examinations are a necessary part of routine care and cancer ­surveillance. Despite positive changes in the oncology and sexual medicine fields over the past several decades, past several decades, there is still a paucity of targeted and a paucity of targeted interventions addressing sexual and vaginal health issues. Prospective research with uniform measures and methods are needed to fully comprehend the impact of gynecologic cancer on the sexual function and vaginal health of women of all ages coping with cancer.


Gynecologic cancer Older adults Sexuality Vaginal health 


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© Springer-Verlag London 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Gynecology Service, Department of SurgeryMemorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer CenterNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Survivorship DepartmentMemorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer CenterNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Female Sexual Medicine and Women’s Health, Department of Surgery/PsychiatryMemorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer CenterNew YorkUSA

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