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Sexual Functioning in Male Survivors of Lymphoma: A Systematic Review (CME)


Emily Arden-Close, PhD, University of Sheffield—Department of Psychology, Western Bank, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK. Tel: 02380 470674; Fax: 02380 470674; E-mail:


Introduction.  The lymphomas (Hodgkin's lymphoma [HL] and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma [NHL]) are among the most common cancers affecting men under 45 years. Survival rates are now excellent, but treatment is associated with a number of side effects including sexual dysfunction with potential implications for compromised quality of life (QoL).

Aims.  To address the (i) prevalence of sexual dysfunction among lymphoma survivors relative to the general population, survivors of other cancers, and in survivors of HL and NHL; and (ii) relationships between sexual functioning and disease and treatment, demographic, and psychological variables.

Methods.  Inclusion criteria were quantitative studies that focused on adult male survivors of lymphoma and included a comparison group and presented results separately for HL and NHL. Standardized systematic searches were used. Information about design, sample size, age, time since diagnosis, type of treatment, comparison group, measures, and findings were extracted from eligible studies.

Results.  Ten articles met the inclusion criteria, of which, nine included patients with HL only, and one included patients with HL or NHL. Sexual function was compromised relative to the general population, better than testicular cancer survivors, and worse than leukemia survivors. Depression was consistently associated with sexual dysfunction. There was evidence that chemotherapy, relapse, reduced testosterone levels, older age at survey, and worse physical QoL were associated with worse sexual function.

Conclusions.  Conclusions are limited by methodological issues including lack of utilization of standardized measures of sexual function and longitudinal research. Even so, there is evidence of sexual dysfunction among lymphoma survivors. Clinicians need to be sensitive to these issues. Future longitudinal work is necessary to determine the likelihood of recovery. Arden-Close E, Eiser C, and Pacey A. Sexual functioning in male survivors of lymphoma: a systematic review. J Sex Med 2011;8:1833–1840.