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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 459-466

Obstacles of cancer survivorship: Sexuality issues - Need to break communication barriers

Department of Medical Oncology, Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology, M. H. Mari Gowda Road, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Nagesh T Sirsath
Room No. 203, PG Hostel, Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology, M. H. Mari Gowda Road, Bengaluru - 560 029, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2278-0513.142614

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Many types of cancer and cancer therapies are frequently associated with sexual dysfunction. Previously sexual problems in cancer patients were mostly linked to breast or gynecologic cancer in females and prostate cancer in males. However, recent studies indicate that several other cancers are associated with sexual problems with estimates of sexual dysfunction ranging from 40% to 100% across various sites. Conversation related to sexual problems is not often the comfort zone for both patients and doctors. Numerous barriers contribute to this lack of communication, including lack of provider training, lack of time and lack of access to resources should the need arise to tackle the problem. Although clinicians often worry that patients will be offended or embarrassed if asked about sexual health, it is important to remember that multiple studies clearly indicate that patients want to talk about this topic with their doctors and that they desire more information about possible sexual side effects of treatment. It is essential that clinicians prepare patients for potential changes that may be encountered and let them know that discussion about sexual health concerns is welcome. Patients should be offered sexual counseling and informed about the availability of therapies for sexual dysfunctions. In this article, we aim to provide a concise review of the most common sexual problems experienced by survivors and discuss treatment options to overcome the problem.

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