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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 1995 Jan 15;31(2):399-404.

The effects of radiotherapy and surgery on the sexual function of women treated for cervical cancer.

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  • 1Oncology Unit, Auckland Hospital, New Zealand.



This study investigated the short- and medium-term effects of pelvic radiotherapy and surgery on the sexual function of women treated for cervical cancer.


Sixteen women with Stages I, II, or III disease referred for radiotherapy treatment were assessed. Six had undergone prior hysterectomy. The women were assessed with questionnaires prior to radiotherapy, at completion of radiotherapy, and at 6 weeks and 14 weeks after radiotherapy treatment. The clinical findings at routine follow-up were noted.


The study showed significant changes in sexual activity and satisfaction as a result of treatment. This was due to a number of physical and psychological factors. The level of sexual activity was lowest at completion of radiotherapy treatment. A feeling of vaginal shortening was the most frequent reason and was more common in women who were treated with surgery and radiotherapy. Dyspareunia, bleeding, and concern of bleeding and/or recurrence were all significant factors.


The questionnaires were an effective way of assessing women's sexual function. Radiotherapy caused sexual dysfunction in one-half of women. Combined treatment with radiotherapy and surgery results in a higher risk than radiotherapy alone. Women with cervical cancer and undergoing radiotherapy treatment require considerable counseling and support.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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