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 journalArticle

16 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2017


  • Adolescents
  • Adolescents and young adults (AYAs)
  • Cancer
  • Sexual functioning
  • Young adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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