Sexual satisfaction assessment in 194 nonmetastatic cancer patients on treatment or in follow-up

Alice Maruelli, Carla Ripamonti, Elena Bandieri, Guido Miccinesi, Maria Adelaide Pessi, Loredana Buonaccorso

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Aims and background. Sexuality is an important aspect of quality of life, but health care professionals still avoid discussing sexual issues with cancer patients. Methods and study design. We present a secondary analysis of sexuality issues according to the results of a survey on 266 patients with early-stage cancer. The aim of the survey was to ascertain the feasibility and clinical usefulness of questionnaires (Patient Dignity Inventory, PDI; Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, HADS; Edmonton Symptom Assesssment Scale, ESAS; FACIT-spiritual well-being scale, FACIT-SP; System of Belief Inventory, SBI-15R) investigating aspects such as dignity, hope and research of meaning in life. The present study is an ancillary analysis of the full sample, and we have focused on the results of FACIT-SP about the correlation between sexual satisfaction and clinical characteristics in 108 patients having solid tumors and 86 having hematological malignancies with no metastases who were on active cancer treatment or in follow-up in four different cancer treatment settings during the first half of 2011. Results. The median age of the 194 patients was 65 years, 112 were women, 155 were undergoing treatment and 39 were in follow-up. Eighty-three patients were above the cutoff score for HADS. Among the 171 believers, 80 were churchgoers and 91 were nonchurchgoers, whereas the nonbelievers among the patients were 23. Thirty-five percent of the patients did not respond to the sexuality item of the questionnaire. Among the responders (n = 126), 36% reported having no sexual satisfaction (score = 0). Sexual dissatisfaction was greater in older patients (47% vs 31%, not significant [NS]), women (43% vs 27%, NS), patients on treatment (38% vs 25%, NS), patients who requested psychological support (53% vs 25%, P = 0.001), patients with high levels of anxiety and depression, i.e., HADS scores >10 (44% vs 30%, NS), nonbelievers (61% vs 34% among churchgoers, 29% among believers but nonchurchgoers, P = 0.046). Conclusions. One out of 3 patients did not respond to the item on sexuality. Among the responders, 1 out of 3 reported having no sexual satisfaction. Half of the patients receiving psychological support considered their sexual life not satisfying. Clinical interviews and specific questionnaires on sexuality should be used to investigate this particular aspect. Copyright - Il Pensiero Scientifico Editore.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)232-236
Number of pages5
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Cancer
  • Communication
  • Psychological support
  • Sexuality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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