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Approach to sexual dysfunction in women with cancer

Abstract

Sexual dysfunction in female cancer patients remains under-diagnosed and under-treated. As sexual dysfunction is becoming an increasingly common side effect of cancer treatments, it is imperative for healthcare providers and especially gynecologic oncologists to include a comprehensive evaluation of sexual health as a routine part of the workup of such patients. Although most oncologists are not experienced in treating sexual dysfunctions, simple tools can be incorporated into clinical practice to improve the management of these conditions. In this review, we propose a practical approach to selecting proper treatment for sexual dysfunctions in female cancer patients. This includes three main steps: knowledge, diagnosis, and sexual counseling. Knowledge can be acquired through a specific updating about sexual issues in female cancers, and with a medical training in female sexual dysfunctions. Diagnosis requires a comprehensive history and physical examination. Sexual counseling is one of the most important interventions to consider and, in some cases, it may be the only intervention needed to help cancer patients tolerate their symptoms. Sexual counseling should be addressed by oncologists; however, select patients should be referred for qualified psychological or sexological interventions where appropriate. Finally, a multidisciplinary team approach may be the best way to address this challenging issue.

  • vaginal atrophy
  • sexual dysfunction
  • personalized coaching
  • cancer patients
  • quality of life
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