Impact of breast cancer diagnosis and treatment on women's sexuality: a survey of Japanese patients



Objective: Research on the impact of breast cancer on Asian women's sexual lives is extremely scarce. This study investigated the sexual changes experienced by breast cancer patients in Japan following surgery, and their sexuality-related information needs.

Methods: An anonymous, cross-sectional survey of breast cancer out-patients was conducted in 2005. Data from 85 subjects, who were without recurrence and reported being sexually active pre-surgery, were analyzed.

Results: Subjects were mainly in their 40's and 50's, and the median time since surgery was 43 months. Seventy-three (85.9%) had resumed sex after surgery with the median time being 3.5 months after surgery. Among 73 who resumed sex, 43 reported that the frequency of sex decreased, and 72 reported at least one sexually related change. The multiple logistic regression analysis revealed that those who had perceived the sexual relationship with their partner important before surgery (OR, 6.705; 95%CI, 1.320–34.051; p = 0.022) were more likely to maintain the same frequency of sex as before surgery. Perceived changes in respondents' sexual relationship did not necessarily result in deterioration of the couple's overall relationship. Regarding sexuality-related information needs, respondents wished to have information on treatment-induced sexual changes as well as sexual and general inter-couple communication strategies.

Conclusion: This research revealed that breast cancer patients in Japan experience various sexual problems following breast cancer treatment. Sexuality-related information should be provided to all patients, regardless of patients age or type of surgery, as a part of routine treatment information giving. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.