What are the ASCO guidelines to address sexual problems in people with cancer?

Updated: Feb 28, 2018
  • Author: Winston W Tan, MD, FACP; more...
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The ASCO clinical practice guideline on interventions to address sexual problems in people with cancer is an adaptation of a Cancer Care Ontario guideline and is applicable to men and women (and their partners) of all sexual orientations living with cancer of any type; patients previously treated for a childhood cancer were not included. Recommendations include the following [21] :

  • A member of the health care team should initiate a discussion with the patient regarding sexual health and dysfunction resulting from the cancer or its treatment. The ASCO Expert Panel believes that introduction of the topic should be held with the patient alone, with the option of later partner inclusion if the patient desires. Discussions should be congruent with the patient’s literacy level, cultural/religious beliefs, and sexual orientation. This issue should be raised with the individual at the time of diagnosis and continue to be reassessed periodically throughout follow-up.
  • Psychosocial and/or psychosexual counseling should be offered to all patients with cancer, with the goal of improving sexual response, body image, intimacy and relationship issues, and overall sexual functioning and satisfaction. In patients who have a partner, couples-based interventions may prove more effective.
  • Medical and treatable contributing factors should be identified and addressed first.

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