Psychosexual functioning among adult female survivors of childhood cancer: a report from the childhood cancer survivor study

J Clin Oncol. 2014 Oct 1;32(28):3126-36. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2013.54.1086. Epub 2014 Aug 11.


Purpose: Childhood cancer survivors may be at risk for impaired psychosexual functioning as a direct result of their cancer or its treatments, psychosocial difficulties, and/or diminished quality of life.

Patients and methods: Two thousand one hundred seventy-eight female adult survivors of childhood cancer and 408 female siblings from the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study (CCSS) completed a self-report questionnaire about their psychosexual functioning and quality of life. On average, participants were age 29 years (range, 18 to 51 years) at the time of the survey, had been diagnosed with cancer at a median age of 8.5 years (range, 0 to 20) and were most commonly diagnosed with leukemia (33.2%) and Hodgkin lymphoma (15.4%).

Results: Multivariable analyses suggested that after controlling for sociodemographic differences, survivors reported significantly lower sexual functioning (mean difference [MnD], -0.2; P = .01), lower sexual interest (MnD, -0.2; P < .01), lower sexual desire (MnD, -0.3; P < .01), lower sexual arousal (MnD, -0.3; P < .01), lower sexual satisfaction (MnD, -0.2; P = .01), and lower sexual activity (MnD, -0.1; P = .02) compared with siblings. Risk factors for poorer psychosexual functioning among survivors included older age at assessment, ovarian failure at a younger age, treatment with cranial radiation, and cancer diagnosis during adolescence.

Conclusion: Decreased sexual functioning among female survivors of childhood cancers seems to be unrelated to emotional factors and is likely to be an underaddressed issue. Several risk factors among survivors have been identified that assist in defining high-risk subgroups who may benefit from targeted screening and interventions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Hodgkin Disease / diagnosis
  • Hodgkin Disease / psychology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Leukemia / diagnosis
  • Leukemia / psychology
  • Logistic Models
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Quality of Life
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Risk Assessment / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Factors
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / psychology*
  • Siblings
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • Survivors / psychology*
  • Young Adult