Existing research on sexual functioning has focused on women who have breast or gynaecologic cancer and men who have prostate cancer. Less is known about how other types of cancers affect sexuality. An individual’s sexual response can be affected in a number of ways that involves the physical, psychological, interpersonal, and behavioural aspects of a person. Several cancer site specific EORTC modules include a limited number of sexual functioning items.
However, these modules do not cover the whole range of sexual health. There is no single self-report measure that can be recommended for cancer clinical trials. Therefore it seemed to be necessary to develop a broader Sexual Health Questionnaire for cancer patients.
A literature search was performed on sexual health in cancer patients. The list including 53 issues was then prepared for interviews with patients and health care professionals (HCP) in 13 countries (21 institutions). 107 patients and 83 HCP reviewed the issues for feedback on appropriateness of content and breadth of coverage. The samples were representative and a cross-cultural balance was ensured. A total of 22 sexual health related issues were operationalized into questions with the format and time frame being compatible with the QLQ-C30. A preliminary scale structure was defined (sexual satisfaction, sexual pain, single items including gender-specific items). About 400 patients with different cancer sites have been recruited for Phase 4.
Patient recruitment will be completed Q2, 2nd assessment and data Q3; statistical analysis Q4 2018.
We are developing a questionnaire to assess various issues of sexual health that cancer patients and survivors may experience after treatment. We have asked health professionals as well as patients with different social backgrounds and in different stages of disease and treatment. Currently we are testing the questionnaire in including 22 items to make it will be a valid and feasible measure for clinical practice. The results can help patients and the professionals to better understand the needs of cancer patients regarding an underestimated and mostly tabooed issue – sexual health.
Oberguggenberger AS, Nagele E, Inwald EC, Tomaszewski K, Lanceley A, Nordin A, Creutzberg CL, Kuljanic K, Kardamakis D, Schmalz C, Arraras J, Costantini A, Almont T, Wei-Chu C, Dehandschutter S, Winters Z, Greimel E; EORTC Quality of Life Group.Phase 1-3 of the cross-cultural development of an EORTC questionnaire for the assessment of sexual health in cancer patients: the EORTC SHQ-22. Cancer Med. 2018 Mar;7(3):635-645. doi: 10.1002/cam4.1338. Epub 2018 Feb 13.PMID: 29436144