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Evaluation of Sexual Function of Turkish Women With Breast Cancer Receiving Systemic Treatment

Gulbeyaz Can
Umran Oskay
Zehra Durna
Adnan Aydiner
Pinar Saip
Rian Disci
Ates Kadioglu
ONF 2008, 35(3), 471-476 DOI: 10.1188/08.ONF.471-476

Purpose/Objectives: To describe the sexual lives and factors affecting the sexuality of women with breast cancer receiving systemic treatment.

Design: Descriptive, correlational, cross-sectional study.

Setting: A breast cancer outpatient clinic.

Sample: 40 sexually active patients with breast cancer who received systemic treatment and 40 healthy women.

Methods: Participants completed an individual identification form, the Beck Depression Inventory, and the Female Sexual Function Index. Descriptive statistics and nonparametric tests were used to evaluate data.

Main Research Variables: Factors affecting the sexuality of patients with breast cancer.

Findings: Study participants had great difficulty discussing their sexual lives because of Turkish culture, but patients with breast cancer receiving systemic therapy had poorer sexual lives than healthy women. Depression level was the most significant variable for patients who stopped having sex; as the level of depression increased, so did the negative effect on sexual function. Women with breast cancer also experienced dyspareunia during treatment from decreased vaginal lubrication. As dyspareunia decreased, sexual function improved.

Conclusions: Addressing depression, a significant factor in the sexual lives of patients receiving systemic treatment, will increase the sexual function of patients with breast cancer receiving treatment.

Implications for Nursing: Holistic care should be given to patients diagnosed with breast cancer, including psychological support, an evaluation of patients' previous sexual lives, and information and coping strategies about the effect of the treatment regimen on sexuality.

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