Sexual Concerns after (Pelvic) Radiotherapy: Is There Any Role for the Radiation Oncologist?

Sexual function is an important aspect of quality of life, and may be impaired after (pelvic) radiation.

The aim of this study was to identify practice, responsibility attitudes, knowledge, and barriers of Dutch radiation oncologists regarding sexual counseling.

A cross-sectional survey was performed using a 28-item questionnaire sent to all members of the Dutch Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology.

Self-reported practice, knowledge, barriers, need for training and responsibility attitudes in regard to demographic characteristics.

Of the surveyed sample, 54. 6% of the radiation oncologists completed the instrument (n = 119). Frequency of discussing sexual function was fluctuating, depending on the type of tumor. The majority of the responding radiation oncologists (75%) agreed that discussing sexual function is their responsibility, about one-third (33. 6%) pointed at the involved specialist (surgeon, urologist, gynecologist, or oncologist), a fifth also considered the general practitioner responsible (21%). Additional training about discussing sexuality was required according to 44. 4%, the majority agreed that sexual counseling should be a regular component of radiation oncology residency (n = 110, 94%). Barriers most mentioned included patient is too ill (36. 2%), no angle or reason for asking (32. 4%), advanced age of the patient (27%) and culture/religion (26. 1%). For prostate cancer patients, phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitor information was supplied regularly (49. 2%) and often (40. 7%).

Radiation oncologists generally perform sexual counseling in case of pelvic radiation therapy, but not consistently in case of gastrointestinal, breast, and other cancers. The majority of radiation oncologists considered counseling on sexual functioning as a part of their job, some also pointed at the referring specialist or general practitioner. The findings suggest that awareness about sexual dysfunction is present among radiation oncologists, but responsibility for active counseling is uncertain. Results emphasize the need for providing educational and practical training, as well as a list for specialized referral. Krouwel EM, Nicolai MP, van der Wielen GJ, Putter H, Krol ADG, Pelger RCM, Incrocci L, and Elzevier HW. Sexual concerns after (pelvic) radiotherapy: is there any role for the radiation oncologist? J Sex Med 2015;12:1927-1939.

The journal of sexual medicine. 2015 Sep [Epub]

Esmée M Krouwel, Melianthe P Nicolai, Gerard J van der Wielen, Hein Putter, Augustinus D G Krol, Rob C M Pelger, Luca Incrocci, Henk Willem Elzevier

Department of Urology, Leiden University Medical Centre, Leiden, The Netherlands. , Department of Urology, Leiden University Medical Centre, Leiden, The Netherlands. , Department of Urology, Bronovo Hospital, The Hague, The Netherlands. , Department of Medical Statistics, Leiden University Medical Centre, Leiden, The Netherlands. , Department of Radiation Oncology, Leiden University Medical Centre, Leiden, The Netherlands. , Department of Urology, Leiden University Medical Centre, Leiden, The Netherlands. , Department of Radiation Oncology, Erasmus MC Cancer Institute, Rotterdam, The Netherlands. , Department of Urology, Leiden University Medical Centre, Leiden, The Netherlands.

PubMed

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