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Cancer J. 2009 Jan-Feb;15(1):19-26. doi: 10.1097/PPO.0b013e31819587bb.

Concerns about sexuality after breast cancer.

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  • 1Supportive Care Program, Stanford Hospital Cancer Center, Stanford, CA, USA.


Cancer treatment, especially chemotherapy, creates changes in the female body that affect sexual desire, sexual functioning, and emotional relationships. Although healthy women also experience physiological changes leading to menopause, these changes occur gradually leaving them sexually active 5 to 10 years longer and with fewer problems in sexual functioning. Studies show that breast cancer patients experience sexual problems soon after treatment, and continue in follow-up. Research also describes the normal decline in sexuality among healthy women as they age. Furthermore, relationship problems occur when couples experience sexual problems, sometimes threatening their attachment.These problems can be anticipated and addressed through the physician's communication with their patient. Other solutions include effective psychologic and emotional counseling and pharmaceutical and over the counter assistance for hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and pain to assist with the physiological issues.

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