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Cancer. 2018 Jan 1;124(1):176-182. doi: 10.1002/cncr.30976. Epub 2017 Sep 7.

Improvement in sexual function after ovarian cancer: Effects of sexual therapy and rehabilitation after treatment for ovarian cancer.

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Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts.
Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.



Sexual dysfunction is a distressing long-term effect after gynecological cancer and affects the majority of survivors for years after the completion of therapy. Despite its prevalence, treatment-related sexual dysfunction is underrecognized and undertreated for survivors. Thus, the aim of this study was to develop and test a brief psychoeducational intervention for managing sexual dysfunction for women who have undergone treatment for ovarian cancer (OC).


Forty-six OC survivors with documented, treatment-related sexual dysfunction received a single half-day group intervention that included sexual health education and rehabilitation training, relaxation and cognitive behavioral therapy skills to address sexual symptoms, and a single tailored booster telephone call 4 weeks after the group. Assessment measures were completed at the baseline (baseline 1), after an 8-week no-treatment run-in period (baseline 2), and then again 2 and 6 months after the intervention. The Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) was used to assess sexual functioning, and the Brief Symptom Inventory 18 (BSI-18) was used to capture psychological distress.


Between baseline 1 and baseline 2, there were no significant changes in the study measures, and this indicated no natural improvement during the run-in period. In contrast, the total FSFI scores improved significantly from baseline 1 to the 2- (n = 45; P < .0005) and 6-month time points (n = 42; P < .05). The BSI-18 scores were also significantly improved at the 2- (P < .005) and 6-month time points (P < .01) in comparison with baseline 1.


This brief behavioral intervention led to significant improvements in overall sexual functioning and psychological distress that were maintained at the 6-month follow-up. The results demonstrate the feasibility of this brief, low-intensity behavioral intervention and support the development of a larger randomized controlled trial. Cancer 2018;124:176-82. © 2017 American Cancer Society.


gynecological cancer and sexual dysfunction; ovarian cancer; quality of life and cancer; sexual health

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