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Keywords:

  • Breast Cancer;
  • Sexual Function;
  • Endocrine Therapy;
  • Menopause;
  • Breast Cancer Survivor

ABSTRACT

Introduction.  Breast cancer (BC) remains the most common non-skin cancer in women and an increasing number are living as BC survivors.

Aim.  The aim of this article is to evaluate the impact of the first diagnosis of invasive BC and its treatment, menopausal symptoms, and body image on sexual function.

Methods.  The BUPA Foundation Health and Wellbeing after Breast Cancer Study is a prospective cohort study of 1,684 women recruited within 12 months of their first diagnosis with invasive BC. Each participant completed an enrollment questionnaire (EQ) and first follow-up questionnaire (FQ1) 12 months post-EQ.

Main Outcome Measure.  Sexual function was evaluated by the Menopause-Specific Quality of Life Questionnaire embedded within the FQ1.

Results.  Of the 1,011 women in the analyses, 70% experienced sexual function problems and 77% reported vasomotor symptoms. Women experiencing sexual function problems were postmenopausal (P = 0.02), experienced vasomotor symptoms (P < 0.01), and used aromatase inhibitors (P = 0.03). Women with vasomotor symptoms were twice as likely to experience sexual function problems (odds ratio [OR] 1.93, 95% confidence interval [CI] 141, 2.63; P < 0.001). This association was more extreme for women on aromatase inhibitors (OR 3.49, 95% CI 1.72, 7.09; P = 0.001) but did not persist in women not using endocrine therapies (OR 1.41, 95% CI 0.84, 2.36; P = 0.19). Women on aromatase inhibitors were more likely to report sexual function problems (OR 1.50, 95% CI 1.0, 2.2, P = 0.04) and women with body image issues were 2.5 times more likely to report sexual function problems (OR 2.5 95% CI 1.6, 3.7, P < 0.001). Women using tamoxifen were not more likely to experience sexual function problems (OR 1.1, 95% CI 0.8, 1.5, P = 0.6); however, women with body image issues were twice as likely to experience sexual function problems (OR 2.1, 95% CI 1.5, 3.0, P < 0.001).

Conclusion.  Seventy percent of partnered BC survivors less than 70 experienced sexual function problems. Sexual problems are related to the use of aromatase inhibitors which can exacerbate menopausal symptoms. Panjari M, Bell RJ, and Davis SR. Sexual function after breast cancer. J Sex Med 2011;8:294–302.