Send to

Choose Destination
Psychol Health Med. 2017 Mar;22(3):370-380. doi: 10.1080/13548506.2016.1210176. Epub 2016 Jul 19.

Hidden reality: sexual sphere in brain tumor patients.

Author information

a Department of Neuroncology , Unit of Neurology II, Fondazione I.R.C.C.S. Istituto Neurologico C. Besta , Milan , Italy.
b Faculty of Psychology , Vita-Salute San Raffaele University , Milan , Italy.


Most reports emphasize that tumors and their treatments affect sexual function. To date, no studies have focused on sexual functioning in patients with brain tumors. Our study's objective is to describe the sexual sphere of patients with brain tumors and examine the possible differences between patients who reported sexual dysfunctions and those who did not with respect to their psychological and functional status. We tested 46 patients with brain tumors. We used an ad hoc questionnaire to assess patients' subjective perception of their own sexual sphere. To assess patients' psychological status, we used the following questionnaires: Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale; Psychological Distress Inventory; EORTC QLQ-C30; EORTC QLQ-BN20. Fifty-eight percent of patients reported sexual disturbance. Our data showed that a lack of or decrease in sexual desire is the most common sexual problem reported by our patients (56%). Patients with sexual problems reported higher levels of anxiety and depression and a worse self-reported quality of life (QoL) than did those who did not perceive adverse changes in their sexual sphere. In addition, we found that patients with a better performance status (KPS) reported more changes in sexual behaviors than did those who had performance difficulties. Of the patients, 15.2% received information regarding possible changes in the sexual sphere by physicians. Additionally, 10.8 of 15.2% of the patients reported having explicitly requested information from physicians. The study demonstrated a relation between QoL and sexual function. Therefore, it would be important to encourage clinicians to ask questions regarding patients' sexual issues, thus providing them with an opportunity to expose their difficulties and receive adequate support.


Brain tumor; quality of life; sexual dysfunctions

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center