A new study has analysed factors influencing the sexual health of postmenopausal breast cancer survivors.
The study, published in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) assesses factors such as whether they have a sexual partner and the post-breast cancer treatment therapies they have undergone.
This is the first known study to examine the influence of partner status on the relationship between sexual problems and self-efficacy for managing sexual problems, and quality of life for postmenopausal breast cancer survivers taking adjuvant endocrine therapy.
Treatment therapies for breast cancer survivors
Breast cancer is the leading cancer diagnosis in women.
The estimates show that:
- More than 266,000 new cases of breast cancer occurred in 2018;
- More than seventy percent of which are in women aged fifty and over.
Adjuvant endocrine therapy (AET), for example tamoxifen, is often recommended for postmenopausal women. This is sometimes recommended for as long as 10 years after completion of breast cancer treatment to limit the risk of cancer recurrence.
Symptoms frequently experienced by breast cancer survivors
Post-breast cancer treatment therapies have some common adverse effects, including:
- Vaginal dryness; and
- Painful intercourse; and
- Low sexual desire.
- The above could lead to sexual dissatisfaction and an overall lower quality of life.
Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, NAMS executive director, said: “Survivors of breast cancer, particularly those on aromatase inhibitors, often have unaddressed sexual concerns, and healthcare providers aren’t asking about them. In this study, postmenopausal, unpartnered women were the most vulnerable to having quality-of-life issues and also sense-of-self affected by unaddressed sexual problems.”
How partner status affects the sexual health of postmenopausal breast cancer survivors
According to the study, unpartnered postmenopausal women with greater sexual problems or lower self-efficacy may be at greater risk to experience decreased quality of life.
The study found that: “Partner status moderates the relationship between sexual problems and self-efficacy for managing sexual problems and psychosocial quality-of-life for postmenopausal breast cancer survivors taking adjuvant endocrine therapy.”