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Improving care for women after gynecological cancer: the development of a sexuality clinic

Barbera, Lisa MD1,2,3; Fitch, Margaret PhD4; Adams, Lauran RN1; Doyle, Catherine RN1; DasGupta, Tracey RN1; Blake, Jennifer MD5,6

doi: 10.1097/gme.0b013e31821f598c
Review Article

The impact of a gynecological cancer diagnosis and the subsequent treatment on women is profound, both physically and psychologically, in particular with respect to sexual function and sexuality. We describe our experience creating a specialized clinic to address concerns about sexual health and rehabilitation. We used a case study approach to describe the clinic’s inception and first 2 years of operation. Fifty-six survivors of gynecological cancer were seen at the clinic in the first 2 years. These patients had a significant symptom burden, many related to menopause, as well as those aftereffects of radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and surgical operation as well as psychological and emotional responses to cancer. The most common interventions were education and counseling. Patients reported high levels of satisfaction with their experience at the clinic. We hope our experience may be of assistance to others considering a similar endeavor.

From the 1Odette Cancer Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; 2Department of Radiation Oncology and Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada; 3Institute for Clinical EvaluativeSciences, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; 4Oncology Nursing and Patient and Family Support Program, Odette Cancer Centre, Sunnybrook Health Science Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; 5Women and Babies Program, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; and 6Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Received February 18, 2011; revised and accepted April 11, 2011.

Financial disclosure/conflicts of interest: None reported.

Address correspondence to: Lisa Barbera, MD, Odette Cancer Centre, 2075 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4N 3M5. E-mail:

©2011The North American Menopause Society