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Sexual Function in Childhood Cancer Survivors: A Report from Project REACH

Authors

  • Sharon L. Bober PhD,

    Corresponding author
    • David B. Perini Quality of Life Clinic, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
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  • Eric S. Zhou PhD,

    1. David B. Perini Quality of Life Clinic, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
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  • Bing Chen MPH,

    1. David B. Perini Quality of Life Clinic, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
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  • Peter E. Manley MD,

    1. Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Outcomes Clinic, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
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  • Lisa B. Kenney MD, MPH,

    1. David B. Perini Quality of Life Clinic, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
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  • Christopher J. Recklitis PhD, MPH

    Corresponding author
    • David B. Perini Quality of Life Clinic, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
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Corresponding Author: Sharon L. Bober, PhD, David B. Perini Quality of Life Clinic, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women's Hospital and HarvardMedicalSchool, 44 Binney Street, D321, Boston, MA 02115, USA. Tel: 617-632-6547; E-mail: sharon_bober@dfci.harvard.edu

Abstract

Introduction

Of the approximately 12,000 children and adolescents that will be diagnosed with cancer in 2013, it is expected that over 80% of them will become long-term adult survivors of childhood cancer. Although it has been well established that cancer treatment often has profound negative impact on sexual functioning, sexual functioning in adult survivors of childhood cancer is not well understood.

Aim

The aim of the current study was to examine the report of sexual function in adult survivors of childhood cancer in relationship to both physical and emotional functioning.

Methods

Two hundred ninety-one participants enrolled in Project REACH, a longitudinal study of childhood cancer survivors, completed questionnaires as part of an annual health survey.

Main Outcome Measure

Primary outcome measures included the sexual functioning subscale of the Swedish Health-Related Quality of Life Survey, the SF-12, and the BSI-18.

Results

Results indicate that 29% of young adult survivors reported two or more discrete symptoms of sexual dysfunction. Females were twice as likely to report sexual problems. Sexual problems were not related to specific types of childhood cancer treatments such as type of chemotherapy or radiation. Young adults with sexual dysfunction did report poorer functioning across the range of SF-12 subscales including physical functioning, general health, fatigue, and mental health.

Conclusions

Significant sexual dysfunction is common in adult survivors of childhood cancer. A greater understanding of the particular relationship between sexual dysfunction and both physical and emotional well-being in this relatively young population is needed. Even when long-term cancer survivors are young adults and report generally good health, results underscore the need for clinicians to specifically assess sexual functioning. Bober SL, Zhou ES, Chen B, Manley PE, Kenney LB, and Recklitis CJ. Sexual function in childhood cancer survivors: A report from Project REACH. J Sex Med 2013;10:2084–2093.

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