What is it about?

The breast cancer (BC) and its treatment (mastectomy, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy) have considerable psychosexual impacts on women's life. This study evaluated sexual functioning, quality of life, and self-esteem in young women with early-stage BC.

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Why is it important?

On the basis of the GLOBOCAN 2008 estimates, breast cancer (BC) is the most common diagnosed cancer and the leading cause of cancer death among women, accounting for 23% of the total cancer cases and 14% of the cancer deaths. In women, BC raises issues for long-term psychological and social adaptation and quality of life (QOL). Because of advances in the early detection and treatment of this malignancy, BC mortality is decreasing, and now, the 5-year survival rate reaches 97% for women diagnosed at an early stage of disease. As the number of BC survivors increases, the long-term impact of BC on sexual function (SF), QOL, and self esteem gain growing attention. The reported rates for the prevalence of sexual dysfunctions in BC patients vary significantly, ranging from as low of 15% for decreased physiological arousal [3] to as high of 64% for diminished sexual desire. In a prospective cohort study, a total of 1,011 women were assessed regarding SF within 12 months of their first diagnosis with invasive BC.


Treatment complications in young women with BC are demanding issues. Vaginal dryness and loss of libido represent some of the most challenging long-term side effects. In a review article, Melisko et al. addressed the ways for amelioration of sexual adverse effects in the early BC patient. They concluded that general postmenopausal women may benefit from topical preparations of testosterone and estrogens. Den Oudsten et al. evaluated clinical factors as predictors of sexual functioning in women with early-stage BC. Of note, in their study, clinical factors did not predict sexual functioning. Perhaps these women suffer from decrease in feelings of femininity and impaired body image

Dr Mohammad Reza Safarinejad
University of Medical Sceices

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This page is a summary of: Quality of life and sexual functioning in young women with early-stage breast cancer 1 year after lumpectomy, Psycho-Oncology, July 2012, Wiley,
DOI: 10.1002/pon.3130.
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