Evaluating a Patient’s Sexual Health—The National Cancer Institute suggests designating and training a member of the oncology team, such as an oncology nurse or social worker, as the expert on sexual health issues. When assessing general quality-of-life concerns, relationship and sexuality should be included in the questions asked, such as: “Many cancer survivors notice changes or problems in their sex lives after cancer treatment. Do you have any problems or concerns related to sexuality?”
Encouraging Patients to Discuss Sexual Dysfunction—In an interview with The ASCO Post (“Sexual Health After Cancer: Communicating With Your Patients,” April 15, 2013), Sage Bolte, PhD, LCSW, OSW-C, suggested including sexual side effects of treatment in the informed consent process and discussing them with the same level of detail as other possible side effects.
“The informed consent process should include the informational component of potential side effects of treatment and normalizing language to explain them,” said Dr. Bolte. “For example, you might say, “Some patients may experience changes in their sexual desire, the way they feel about their body, changes in erectile function, or vaginal changes. If you notice any changes, please feel free to talk to one of us about your concerns.”
Providing Patients With Useful Resources —Many sexual problems associated with cancer and cancer treatment can be mitigated with proper intervention. These websites provide helpful information for patients seeking solutions to sexual dysfunction:
Studies show that all cancers and related treatments have the potential to affect sexuality and sexual function. Surgery, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, bone marrow transplantation, and radiation therapy can physically impact sexual health in myriad ways, including vaginal dryness, dyspareunia,...