Sexual dysfunction following surgery for rectal cancer - A clinical and neurophysiological study

Alberto Pietrangeli, Patrizia Pugliese, Maria Perrone, Isabella Sperduti, Maurizio Cosimelli, Bruno Jandolo

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Abstract

Background. Sexual dysfunction following surgery for rectal cancer may be frequent and often severe. The aim of the present study is to evaluate the occurrence of this complication from both a clinical point of view and by means of neurophysiological tests. Methods. We studied a group of 57 patients submitted to rectal resection for adenocarcinoma. All the patients underwent neurological, psychological and the following neurophysiological tests: sacral reflex (SR), pudendal somatosensory evoked potentials (PEPs), motor evoked potential (MEPs) and sympathetic skin responses (SSRs). The results were compared with a control group of 67 rectal cancer patients studied before surgery. Only 10 of these patients could be studied both pre- and postoperatively. 10 patients submitted to high dose preoperative chemoradiation were studied to evaluate the effect of this treatment on sexual function. Statistical analysis was performed by means of the two-tailed Student's t test for paired observations and k concordance test. Results. 59.6% of patients operated reported sexual dysfunction, while this symptom occurred in 16.4% in the control group. Moreover, a significantly higher rate of alterations of the neurophysiological tests and longer mean latencies of the SR, PEPs, MEPs and SSRs were observed in the patients who had undergone resection. In the 10 patients studied both pre and post-surgery impotence occurred in 6 of them and the mean latencies of SSRs were longer after operation. In the 10 patients studied pre and post chemoradiation impotence occurred in 1 patient only, showing the mild effect of these treatments on sexual function. Conclusion. Patients operated showed severe sexual dysfunctions. The neurophysiological test may be a useful tool to investigate this complication. The neurological damage could be monitored to decide the rehabilitation strategy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number128
JournalJournal of Experimental and Clinical Cancer Research
Volume28
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology
  • Medicine(all)

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