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Abstract | Full HTML Article | PDF ecancer 13 987 / https://doi.org/10.3332/ecancer.2019.987

Special Issue

Recommended patient information sheet on the impact of haematopoietic cell transplantation on sexual functioning and sexuality

Sexual concerns are common after haematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT). Exposure to total body irradiation (TBI), alkylating agent and graft versus host disease (GvHD) can all affect sexual function, leading to problems in sexual desire, arousal and the orgasm phase of the sexual response cycle. In high-risk haematological malignancies, such as acute leukaemia and myelodysplastic syndromes, HCT often offers the highest chance for long-term survival. In addition, these haematological diseases and HCT can have an impact on body image, self-esteem, (sexual) relationship and psychosocial factors, all of which are able to affect sexuality and sexual function. Five years post HCT, 80% of the female survivors and 46% of the male survivors report sexual dysfunction.

It has been shown that these patients cope better after having discussed sexual health. While healthcare providers (HCPs) have the responsibility to address sexual issues, it has been demonstrated that 48%–82% HCT recipients reported not having discussed sexual issues with their HCPs and that only one-third of the HCPs routinely discussed sexual issues with their patients. HCPs describe a lack of knowledge and being uncomfortable with the topic as the most important reasons for not addressing sexual functioning. Even so, it would help >90% HCPs if the patient initiated discussing sexual issues. However, to empower patients addressing sexual issues, adequate comprehensive patient information is needed. In an effort to better meet the patients’ need, a patient information sheet: ‘Information for patients undergoing Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation: the impact of the disease and treatment on sexual function and sexuality’, has been created.

In this review, we describe what is known about the impact of HCT on sexual function and briefly the management of sexual problems.

Keywords: haematopoietic cell transplantation, sexual function, sexuality, patient information, communication

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European Cancer Organisation European Institute of Oncology

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Foundazione Umberto Veronesi Fondazione IEO Swiss Bridge

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ecancer Global Foundation