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SABCS: Most Young Women With Breast Cancer Report Impact on Sexual Health

Vast majority also report their health care provider does not address sexual health issues

By Lori Solomon HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 14, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Most women diagnosed with breast cancer before age 45 years report an impact to their sexual health, according to the results of a survey presented at the annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, held from Dec. 6 to 10 in San Antonio.

Arin Hanson, M.P.H., from Living Beyond Breast Cancer in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, and colleagues surveyed 717 U.S. women diagnosed with breast cancer who were aged 45 years or younger.

The researchers found that breast cancer diagnosis and treatment caused significant physical and emotional impacts, which differed by a woman’s race/ethnicity, cancer stage, and time elapsed since diagnosis. Nearly two-thirds of participants (64 percent) reported significant impacts on their sexual health, yet their health care providers were unable to address those needs. Women diagnosed with stage III and stage IV breast cancer reported significantly higher percentages of problems with little or no interest in sex versus women diagnosed at other stages. The percentage of young women reporting discussions about fertility with health care providers was 48 percent, which has remained largely unchanged over eight years. However, in the 2020 survey, more participants reported accessing genetic counseling (72 percent) and testing services (90 percent) versus a 2012 survey. Yet, significant racial and ethnic disparities were seen in 2020 for both counseling and testing, with only 82 percent of Black participants and 35 percent of Hispanic respondents receiving testing.

“Addressing impacts on fertility and sexual health are a critical gap in the management and survivorship of women diagnosed with breast cancer,” Hanson said in a statement.

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