Identifying the needs of penile cancer sufferers: a systematic review of the quality of life, psychosexual and psychosocial literature in penile cancer

BMC Urol. 2009 Aug 8;9:8. doi: 10.1186/1471-2490-9-8.

Abstract

Background: Penile cancer is an uncommon malignancy with an incidence of 1 per 100,000. Conservative and radical treatments can be disfiguring and may have an impact on sexual function, quality of life (QOL), social interactions, self-image and self-esteem. Knowledge of how this disease affects patients is paramount to developing a global, multi-disciplinary approach to treatment.

Methods: A Medline/PubMed literature search was conducted using the terms "sexual function penis cancer"; "quality of life penis cancer" and "psychological effects penis cancer" from 1985 to 2008. Articles containing quantitative data on QOL, sexual function or psychological well-being were included.

Results: 128 patients from 6 studies were included. 5 studies contained retrospective data whilst 1 study collected prospective data on erectile function. In the 6 studies 13 different quantitative tools were used to assess psychological well-being, QOL and sexual function. The General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) showed impaired well-being in up to 40% in 2 studies. Patients undergoing more mutilating treatments were more likely to have impaired well-being. The Hospital Anxiety and Depression Score (HADS) demonstrated pathological anxiety up to 31% in 2 studies. 1 study used the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of psychiatric illness (DSM III-R) with 53% exhibiting mental illness, 25% avoidance behaviour and 40% impaired well-being. 12/30 suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. The IIEF-15 was the commonest tool used to assess sexual function. The results varied from 36% in 1 study with no sexual function to 67% in another reporting reduced sexual satisfaction to 78% in another reporting high confidence with erections.

Conclusion: The treatment of penile cancer results in negative effects on well-being in up to 40% with psychiatric symptoms in approximately 50%. Up to two-thirds of patients report a reduction in sexual function. This study demonstrates that penile cancer sufferers can exhibit significant psychological dysfunction, yet no standardised tools or interventional pathways are available. Therefore, there is a need to identify and assess adequate tools to measure psychological and sexual dysfunction in this group of patients.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Comorbidity
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Penile Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Penile Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Psychology
  • Quality of Life*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Concept
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / epidemiology*