Background There is limited information about the impact of radical surgery including pelvic and para-aortic lymphadenectomy and subsequent platinum-based chemotherapy on sexuality in patients with advanced ovarian cancer.
Objective To evaluate the impact of radical surgery including pelvic and para-aortic lymphadenectomy and subsequent platinum-based chemotherapy on sexuality in patients with advanced ovarian cancer as a sub-protocol of the prospectively randomized LION trial.
Methods The Sexual Activity Questionnaire was applied to assess sexual function according to its sub-scales activity, pleasure, and discomfort. The 'orgasm' sub-scale from the Female Sexual Function Index was also added. The questionnaire was administered in combination with the EORTC QLQ-C30 questionnaire at baseline prior surgery, after 6, 12, and 24 months. The primary endpoint was changes in sexual function.
Results Overall, 495 patients received the questionnaires. 254 (51%) responded at baseline. Of these, 55 (22%) patients were sexually active, 182 (72%) were sexually inactive, and for 17 (7%) patients' data were not available. There was a total of 55/495 (11%) patients at 6 months, 139 (28%) patients at 12 months, and 81 (16%) patients at 24 months. Median age was 60.5 years (range 21.4–75.8). At baseline, sexually active responders were significantly younger (median age 51.5 years,) than sexually inactive responders (median age 61.8 years) and tended to have a better performance status. Discomfort evaluated as dryness of the vagina and pain during sexual intercourse was significantly worse at 12 months than at baseline (p<0.001); however, the surgical variable, lymphadenectomy, did not have any impact on this. The orgasm sub-scale showed diverging results with a deterioration from baseline to 12 months in the lymphadenectomy group compared with the no-lymphadenectomy group (p=0.02).
Conclusion The majority of patients were sexually inactive; however, in those who were sexually active, pain during intercourse was worse at 12 months. In addition, the orgasm sub-scale demonstrated worse results in patients who underwent complete lymphadenectomy. The study suggests that surgery in the retroperitoneal space may influence sexual function.
- gynecologic surgical procedures
- ovarian cancer
- quality of life (PRO)/palliative care
- SLN and lympadenectomy
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