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Amelioration of sexual adverse effects in the early breast cancer patient.

  • Author(s): Melisko, Michelle E
  • Goldman, Mindy
  • Rugo, Hope S
  • et al.
Abstract

Background

As the number of breast cancer survivors increases, the long term consequences of breast cancer treatment are gaining attention. Sexual dysfunction is a common complaint amongst breast cancer survivors, and there are few evidence based recommendations and even fewer well designed clinical trials to establish what treatments are safe or effective in this patient population.

Design

We conducted a PubMed search for articles published between 1995-2009 containing the terms breast cancer, sexual dysfunction, libido, vaginal dryness, testosterone, and vaginal estrogen. We initially reviewed articles focusing exclusively on sexual issues in breast cancer patients. Given the paucity of clinical trials addressing sexual issues in breast cancer patients, we also included studies evaluating both hormone and non-hormone based interventions for sexual dysfunction in post-menopausal women in general.

Conclusions

Among breast cancer survivors, vaginal dryness and loss of libido represent some of the most challenging long term side effects of breast cancer treatment. In the general post-menopausal population, topical preparations of estrogens and testosterone both appear to improve sexual function; however there are conflicting reports about the efficacy and safety of these interventions in women with a history of breast cancer, and further research is warranted.

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