Sexual functioning among young adult cancer patients: A 2-year longitudinal study

Chiara Acquati, Brad J. Zebrack, Anna C. Faul, Leanne Embry, Christine Aguilar, Rebecca Block, Brandon Hayes-Lattin, David R. Freyer, Steve Cole

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Cancer-related sexual dysfunction has been reported among adolescents and young adults (AYAs); however, its prevalence over time has not been examined. This longitudinal study investigated sexual dysfunction in AYAs over the course of 2 years after the initial diagnosis. METHODS: Young adult patients (18-39 years old) completed the Medical Outcomes Study Sexual Functioning Scale within the first 4 months of their diagnosis (n = 123) and again 6 (n = 107) and 24 months later (n = 95). An ordered multinomial response model analyzed changes in the probability of reporting sexual dysfunction over time and the independent effects of demographic, clinical, and psychosocial variables. RESULTS: More than half of the participants reported sexual functioning to be problematic at each assessment. The probability of reporting sexual dysfunction increased over time (P <.01) and was greater for cancer patients who were female (P <.001), older (P <.01), married or in a committed relationship (P <.001), treated with chemotherapy (P <.05), and reporting comorbid psychological distress (P <.001) and lower social support (P <.05). For women, being in a relationship increased the likelihood of reporting sexual problems over time; for men, the likelihood of reporting sexual problems increased regardless of their relationship status. CONCLUSIONS: A substantial proportion of young adults report ongoing problems with sexual functioning in the first 2 years after their cancer diagnosis. These findings justify the need to evaluate and monitor sexual functioning throughout a continuum of care. Cancer 2018;124:398-405.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)398-405
Number of pages8
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 2018


  • adolescents
  • adolescents and young adults (AYAs)
  • cancer
  • sexual functioning
  • young adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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