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Volume 18, Number 4, 2013

Sexual functioning in young women in the context of breast cancer treatment

Monika Jankowska


Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women worldwide. The number of
breast cancer survivors has been growing because of earlier detection and improved treatment.
Young women under 50 years of age account for relatively small percentage of all newly diagnosed breast cancer patients. However, their medical and psychosocial context of the disease is unique. Breast cancer is diagnosed at the most productive time in life.
Concerns about childbearing, partner rejection, sexual function, body image, sexual attractiveness and career are common. For all these reasons experience of breast cancer diagnosis and treatment among young women requires special attention. Researches indicate that oncological treatment may negatively affect female sexual functioning. Chemotherapy
is one of the greatest risk factors of sexual dysfunctions, especially when it results in
medication-induced menopause. The duration and severity of sexual problems depend on
a wide variety of factors: medical, psychological and interpersonal. These side effects may
last for many years after the end of treatment. It is known that breast cancer affects both
patients and their partners. The first sexual experience after surgery may be a turning point
in sexual adaptation in couples. Communication is crucial in this process. More knowledge
about sexual difficulties and sexual adaptation process of young breast cancer survivors
(YBCSs) and their partners is needed. Knowing protective and risk factors is necessary to
identify couples at risk for sexual dysfunctions in order to professionally support them in
the best way and at the right time.

Signature: Rep Pract Oncol Radiother, 2013; 18(4) : 193-200

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