Background: Sexual function has been ignored because survival issues associated with cancer treatment commonly take precedence over sexual issues. Sexual dysfunction remains a recognized complication after cancer treatment despite improvement in survival rates for patients with rectal cancer.
Objective: This study investigated the relationships among demographics (ie, age, gender, education, religion) and cancer-related factors (ie, stage of disease, type of treatment, time since operation, comorbid conditions) and sexual function in patients with rectal cancer.
Methods: A cross-sectional study with a convenience sample of 120 rectal cancer patients from a medical center in southern Taiwan completed the International Index of Erectile Function, Female Sexual Function Index, a demographic questionnaire, and medical data during face-to-face interviews.
Results: In both men and women, better sexual function was significantly associated with younger age but not with religion, time since operation, or number of chronic conditions. In men only, better sexual function was associated with earlier stage of cancer, fewer cancer treatments, and higher education.
Conclusion: Sexual function may receive greater attention in Taiwan when rectal cancer patients receive appropriate care. A larger diverse sample is needed for further examination of sexual function over time.
Implications for Practice: Health promotion programs for long-term survivors should include a consistent assessment of sexual function before and after an operation, and patients should receive clinical sexual counseling.