Psychosexual Functioning and Body Image Following a Diagnosis of Ductal Carcinoma In Situ


Sharon L. Bober, PhD, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 0115, USA. Tel: 617-632-6547; Fax: 617-632-2473; E-mail:


Introduction.  There has been exponential growth in diagnoses of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) in the past decade, yet little is known about sexual functioning and body image in women after diagnosis of DCIS. This is of particular importance because many of the parallel treatment modalities also used to treat invasive breast cancer, e.g., surgery and hormonal therapy, have been shown to have a detrimental effect on psychosexual function.

Aim.  The aim was to explore changes in sexual function and body image after diagnosis and treatment of in situ cancer.

Main Outcome Measures.  Evidence-based self-report measures assessing psychosexual functioning and body image.

Methods.  Women diagnosed with DCIS within the past 3 months and who reported being sexually active completed measures assessing various aspects of psychosocial and sexual functioning and body image. Outcomes were evaluated at baseline, 9-, and 18-month time points. All statistical tests were two sided.

Results.  Three hundred four women completed this prospective survey. Overall, sexual function in women with DCIS appears to be very similar to women in the general population and does not seem to be significantly disrupted by a diagnosis of DCIS. Sexual function and body image were notably stable across the 18-month length of follow-up. Of those patients who underwent mastectomy, there were no differences in sexual satisfaction for patients who had reconstruction compared with patients who did not.

Conclusion.  Although it has been shown that women with DCIS have a number of psychosocial challenges, results from this large-scale prospective study of women suggest that sexual function and body image may not be significantly negatively affected by this diagnosis. Of note, these results were also the case for women who underwent mastectomy and hormonal therapy. These findings are reassuring for both patients and physicians in the context of decision making about treatment options. Bober SL, A Giobbie-Hurder, Emmons KM, Winer E, and Partridge A. Psychosexual functioning and body image following a diagnosis of ductal carcinoma in situ. J Sex Med **;**:**–**.