Sexual dysfunction in premenopausal women treated for breast cancer – implications for their clinical care
Breast cancer is the commonest cancer in women globally. Early stage diagnosis in young sexually active women, coupled with advances in adjuvant therapy has contributed to an increase in the number of young survivors. A diagnosis of breast cancer may affect the woman’s self-esteem, sexuality and intimate relationships. Surgical alteration or loss of the breast, a symbol of femininity and sexuality, may negatively impact her body-image. Chemotherapy may cause ovarian damage leading to premature menopause. The psychological effects thereof may impair the man’s ability to offer emotional support to the woman as well as affect their relationship. These may affect a survivor’s sexual functioning and quality of life. This paper reports on four pre-menopausal women treated for breast cancer and the sexual sequels thereof. It is aimed at raising awareness amongst health providers managing women with breast cancer in sub-Saharan Africa on the impact thereof of their quality of life as well as sexual functioning. Treatment of breast cancer has focused mainly on improved survival with no due consideration of its impact on quality of life. There is need for multi-disciplinary approach in managing these patients to address all concerns in a wholesome manner. (Afr J Reprod Health 2016; 20: 122-128).
Keywords: Breast cancer, young women, sexual dysfunction, sub-Saharan Africa
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