Quality of life and sexual functioning after cervical cancer treatment: a long-term follow-up study



Objective: The purpose of the study was to investigate the long-term treatment side effects on the quality of life (QoL) and sexual functioning of cervical cancer survivors undergoing different treatment regimens.

Methods: QoL and sexual functioning were measured using the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire, the Cervix Cancer Module, and the Sexual Activity Questionnaire.

Results: One hundred twenty-one cervical cancer survivors (63 Surgery, 38 Surgery/CT, and 20 Surgery/RT) participated. Patients in the Surgery/RT Group reported significantly worse QoL outcomes (lower scores on physical, role, cognitive, and social functioning) compared with patients in the Surgery Group or patients in the Surgery/CT Group. The level of symptoms such as nausea/vomiting, pain, appetite loss, frequent urination (p=0.019), leaking of urine (p=0.015), and the feeling of a tight vagina (p=0.018) was significantly higher in irradiated patients. Concerning sexual functioning, patients in the Surgery/RT Group reported a significantly lower sexual activity rate compared with women in the Surgery Group or women in the Surgery/CT group (p<0.05). However, there were no statistically significant differences concerning sexual pleasure and sexual discomfort among the three treatment groups (p>0.05).

Conclusions: Cervical cancer survivors treated with adjuvant radiotherapy are more likely at risk for impaired QoL. Survivors treated with surgery or adjuvant chemotherapy return to a similar level of QoL as women without a history of cancer. Although the sexual activity rate is lower in irradiated patients their sexual pleasure is similar to patients after surgery and chemotherapy. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.