Graduation Year

2005

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Psychology

Major Professor

Paul B. Jacobsen, PhD.

Keywords

Psychosocial, Oncology, Quality of life, Women, Health

Abstract

Sexual Functioning in Breast Cancer Survivors Heidi M. King ABSTRACT Breast cancer diagnosis and treatment has been suggested to effect sexual functioning. Little is known about how breast cancer patients compare to women without a history of cancer on measures of sexual functioning, as well as the psychological and physical factors may contribute to these difficulties. To address these issues, 71 breast cancer patients and 40 of their nominated friends were recruited and served as participants. All women received and returned via the mail measures on general background information, depression, fatigue, marital satisfaction, body image, vaginal symptoms, and sexual functioning. All the psychological and physical variables assessed correlated with a measure of overall sexual functioning in the expected directions. With the exception of the physical variable of vaginal problems (p =006), where the patient group reported more problems, the groups did not differ on any remaining physical or psychological variables.

On the overall measure of sexual functioning, no significant differences were found between the two groups. Additional exploratory analyses in which only women treated with chemotherapy were compared to the non-cancer participants yield similar patterns of results. In addition, there was no evidence of interactive effects of age and breast cancer status on sexual functioning. These results suggest that sexual functioning in women treated for breast cancer is similar that of a non-cancer comparison with the exception of more menopausal symptoms. Continued research and interventions towards addressing menopausal symptoms may lead to even improved sexual functioning among breast cancer patients.

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