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How to ask and what to do

a guide for clinical inquiry and intervention regarding female sexual health after cancer

Bober, Sharon L.; Reese, Jennifer B.; Barbera, Lisa; Bradford, Andrea; Carpenter, Kristen M.; Goldfarb, Shari; Carter, Jeanne

Current Opinion in Supportive and Palliative Care: March 2016 - Volume 10 - Issue 1 - p 44–54
doi: 10.1097/SPC.0000000000000186
SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH ISSUES IN CANCER: Edited by Janet Ellis and Elie Isenberg-Grzeda

Purpose of review As the number of female cancer survivors continues to grow, there is a growing need to bridge the gap between the high rate of women's cancer-related sexual dysfunction and the lack of attention and intervention available to the majority of survivors who suffer from sexual problems. Previously identified barriers that hinder communication for providers include limited time, lack of preparation, and a lack of patient resources and access to appropriate referral sources.

Recent findings This study brings together a recently developed model for approaching clinical inquiry about sexual health with a brief problem checklist that has been adapted for use for female cancer survivors, as well as practical evidence-based strategies on how to address concerns identified on the checklist. Examples of patient education sheets are provided as well as strategies for building a referral network.

Summary By providing access to a concise and efficient tool for clinical inquiry, as well as targeted material resources and practical health-promoting strategies based on recent evidence-based findings, we hope to begin eliminating the barriers that hamper oncology providers from addressing the topic of sexual/vaginal health after cancer.

aDana-Farber Cancer Institute

bHarvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts

cCancer Prevention and Control Program, Fox Chase Cancer Center

dDepartment of Social and Behavioral Sciences, College of Public Health, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

eDepartment of Radiation Oncology, University of Toronto and Odette Cancer Centre, Ontario, Canada

fDepartment of Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

gOhio State University, Columbus, Ohio

hDepartments of Medicine and Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

iDepartment of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College

jDepartment of Surgery, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

kDepartment of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

lDepartment of Psychiatry, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York City, New York, USA

Correspondence to Sharon L. Bober, PhD, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School, 450 Brookline Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts, 02215, USA. Tel: +1 617 632 6547; fax: +1 617 632 2473; e-mail:

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