Adult survivors of childhood cancer: the medical and psychosocial late effects of cancer treatment and the impact on sexual and reproductive health

J Sex Med. 2013 Feb;10 Suppl 1:120-6. doi: 10.1111/jsm.12050.


Introduction: There are over 13 million cancer survivors in the United States, which constitutes 3-4% of the U.S. population. According to the Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results program (SEER) data the 5-year overall survival rate for children diagnosed with cancer between ages 0-19 is 83.1%, and 2/3 of childhood cancer survivors will experience at least one late effect of treatment.

Aim: To provide a brief overview of the medical and psychosocial effects of cancer treatments in survivors of childhood cancer with a focus on sexual and reproductive health issues in this population.

Methods: The development of a manuscript from a presentation at the Annual Society of Sexual Medicine meeting. An overview of long-term and late effects of treatment experienced by young adult cancer survivors was presented.

Main outcome measure: This manuscript is based on a presentation that reviewed the medical and psychosocial literature, consensus statements of professional groups, and clinical observations.

Results: Cancer and cancer treatments have both direct and indirect effects of physiological, psychological, and interpersonal factors that can negatively impact the health and well-being of cancer survivors including sexual and reproductive function and satisfaction.

Conclusions: Cancer, its management, and the resulting late effects must be explored and understood by providers caring for childhood cancer survivors so that educational, psychological, pharmacologic, as well as preventive interventions can be implemented with this population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Fertility Preservation
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / etiology
  • Mental Disorders / prevention & control
  • Neoplasms / complications
  • Neoplasms / psychology
  • Neoplasms / rehabilitation*
  • Reproductive Health*
  • Sexuality*
  • Survivors / psychology