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Sexual health and wellbeing after pelvic radiotherapy among women with and without a reported history of sexual abuse: important issues in cancer survivorship care
Göteborgs universitet.
Malmö universitet.
Ersta Sköndal Bräcke University College, Department of Health Care Sciences.
Göteborgs universitet.
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2021 (English)In: Supportive Care in Cancer, ISSN 0941-4355, E-ISSN 1433-7339, Vol. 29, no 11, p. 6851-6861Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

AIMS: Sexual abuse is a women's health concern globally. Although experience of sexual abuse and cancer may constitute risk factors for sexual dysfunction and low wellbeing, the effects of sexual abuse have received little attention in oncology care. This study aims to explore sexual health and wellbeing in women after pelvic radiotherapy and to determine the relationship between sexual abuse and sexual dysfunction, and decreased wellbeing.

METHODS: Using a study-specific questionnaire, data were collected during 2011-2017 from women with gynaecological, anal, or rectal cancer treated with curative pelvic radiotherapy in a population-based cohort and a referred patient group. Subgroup analyses of data from women with a reported history of sexual abuse were conducted, comparing socio-demographics, diagnosis, aspects of sexual health and wellbeing.

RESULTS: In the total sample of 570 women, 11% reported a history of sexual abuse and among these women the most common diagnosis was cervical cancer. More women with than without a history of sexual abuse reported feeling depressed (19.4% vs. 9%, p = 0.007) or anxious (22.6% vs. 11.8%, p = 0.007) and suffering genital pain during sexual activity (52% vs. 25.1%, p = 0.011, RR 2.07, CI 1.24-3.16). In the total study cohort, genital pain during sexual activity was associated with vaginal shortness (68.5% vs. 31.4% p ≤ 0.001) and inelasticity (66.6% vs. 33.3%, p ≤ 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that a history of both sexual abuse and pelvic radiotherapy in women are associated with increased psychological distress and sexual impairment, challenging healthcare professionals to take action to prevent retraumatisation and provide appropriate interventions and support.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2021. Vol. 29, no 11, p. 6851-6861
Keywords [en]
Female cancer survivor, Late effect, Pelvic radiotherapy, Sexual abuse, Sexual dysfunction, Sexual health
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Nursing
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:esh:diva-8855DOI: 10.1007/s00520-021-06263-0ISI: 000651685800003PubMedID: 34003379OAI: oai:DiVA.org:esh-8855DiVA, id: diva2:1557293
Available from: 2021-05-25 Created: 2021-05-25 Last updated: 2021-11-23Bibliographically approved

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Dunberger, Gail

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