open access

Vol 18, No 4 (2013)
Review
Published online: 2013-07-01
Submitted: 2013-01-03
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Sexual functioning in young women in the context of breast cancer treatment

Monika Jankowska
DOI: 10.1016/j.rpor.2013.04.032
·
Rep Pract Oncol Radiother 2013;18(4):193-200.

open access

Vol 18, No 4 (2013)
Review
Published online: 2013-07-01
Submitted: 2013-01-03

Abstract

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women worldwide. The number of breast cancer survivors has been growing because of earlier detection and improved treatment. Young women under 50 years of age account for relatively small percentage of all newly diagnosed breast cancer patients. However, their medical and psychosocial context of the disease is unique. Breast cancer is diagnosed at the most productive time in life. Concerns about childbearing, partner rejection, sexual function, body image, sexual attractiveness and career are common. For all these reasons experience of breast cancer diagnosis and treatment among young women requires special attention. Researches indicate that oncological treatment may negatively affect female sexual functioning. Chemotherapy is one of the greatest risk factors of sexual dysfunctions, especially when it results in medication-induced menopause. The duration and severity of sexual problems depend on a wide variety of factors: medical, psychological and interpersonal. These side effects may last for many years after the end of treatment. It is known that breast cancer affects both patients and their partners. The first sexual experience after surgery may be a turning point in sexual adaptation in couples. Communication is crucial in this process. More knowledge about sexual difficulties and sexual adaptation process of young breast cancer survivors (YBCSs) and their partners is needed. Knowing protective and risk factors is necessary to identify couples at risk for sexual dysfunctions in order to professionally support them in the best way and at the right time.

Abstract

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women worldwide. The number of breast cancer survivors has been growing because of earlier detection and improved treatment. Young women under 50 years of age account for relatively small percentage of all newly diagnosed breast cancer patients. However, their medical and psychosocial context of the disease is unique. Breast cancer is diagnosed at the most productive time in life. Concerns about childbearing, partner rejection, sexual function, body image, sexual attractiveness and career are common. For all these reasons experience of breast cancer diagnosis and treatment among young women requires special attention. Researches indicate that oncological treatment may negatively affect female sexual functioning. Chemotherapy is one of the greatest risk factors of sexual dysfunctions, especially when it results in medication-induced menopause. The duration and severity of sexual problems depend on a wide variety of factors: medical, psychological and interpersonal. These side effects may last for many years after the end of treatment. It is known that breast cancer affects both patients and their partners. The first sexual experience after surgery may be a turning point in sexual adaptation in couples. Communication is crucial in this process. More knowledge about sexual difficulties and sexual adaptation process of young breast cancer survivors (YBCSs) and their partners is needed. Knowing protective and risk factors is necessary to identify couples at risk for sexual dysfunctions in order to professionally support them in the best way and at the right time.

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Keywords

Young women; Breast cancer; Sexual functioning

About this article
Title

Sexual functioning in young women in the context of breast cancer treatment

Journal

Reports of Practical Oncology and Radiotherapy

Issue

Vol 18, No 4 (2013)

Pages

193-200

Published online

2013-07-01

DOI

10.1016/j.rpor.2013.04.032

Bibliographic record

Rep Pract Oncol Radiother 2013;18(4):193-200.

Keywords

Young women
Breast cancer
Sexual functioning

Authors

Monika Jankowska

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