A national network to advance the field of cancer and female sexuality

J Sex Med. 2013 Feb;10(2):319-25. doi: 10.1111/jsm.12061.


Introduction: Understanding sexual health issues in cancer patients is integral to care for the continuously growing cancer survivor population.

Aim: To create a national network of active clinicians and researchers focusing on the prevention and treatment of sexual problems in women and girls with cancer.

Methods: Interdisciplinary teams from the University of Chicago and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center jointly developed the mission for a national conference to convene clinicians and researchers in the field of cancer and female sexuality. The invitee list was developed by both institutions and further iterated through suggestions from invitees. The conference agenda focused on three high-priority topics under the guidance of a professional facilitator. Breakout groups were led by attendees recognized by collaborators as experts in those topics. Conference costs were shared by both institutions.

Main outcome measure: Development of Scientific Working Groups (SWGs).

Results: One hundred two clinicians and researchers were invited to attend the 1st National Conference on Cancer and Female Sexuality. Forty-three individuals from 20 different institutions across 14 states attended, including representation from eight National Cancer Institute (NCI)-funded cancer centers. Attendees included PhD researchers (N = 19), physicians (N = 16), and other healthcare professionals (N = 8). Breakout groups included (i) Defining key life course sexuality issues; (ii) Building a registry; and (iii) Implementing sexual health assessment. Breakout group summaries incorporated group consensus on key points and priorities. These generated six SWGs with volunteer leaders to accelerate future research and discovery: (i) Technology-based interventions; (ii) Basic science; (iii) Clinical trials; (iv) Registries; (v) Measurement; and (vi) Secondary data analysis. Most attendees volunteered for at least one SWG (N = 35), and many volunteered for two (N = 21).

Conclusion: This 1st National Conference demonstrated high motivation and broad participation to address research on cancer and female sexuality. Areas of need were identified, and SWGs established to help promote research in this field.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research*
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / therapy
  • Comorbidity
  • Congresses as Topic
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Female
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / epidemiology
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / physiopathology
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / therapy
  • Humans
  • Information Services*
  • Interdisciplinary Communication
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / physiopathology*
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / prevention & control
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / therapy*
  • Sexuality / physiology*
  • United States