Sexual Dysfunction in Adolescent and Young Adult Survivors of Childhood Cancer: Presentation, Risk Factors, and Evaluation of an Underdiagnosed Late Effect: A Narrative Review

J Adolesc Young Adult Oncol. 2020 Oct;9(5):549-560. doi: 10.1089/jayao.2020.0025. Epub 2020 May 7.


An area of concern affecting the quality of life of childhood cancer survivors (CCS) is that of sexual dysfunction (SD), which may be a result of both physical and psychosexual challenges associated with cancer and its treatment. This is especially pertinent as CCS are known to experience diminished quality of life compared to peers. Relevant to SD, cancer and its associated treatment are associated with negative effects on body image and romantic relationships, as well as overall physical and mental health. Although CCS have been shown to have SD at higher rates than the general population, this is often under-recognized and CCS commonly report that it is not addressed by their health care providers. To guide future research and improve clinical screening and treatment practices for SD, we performed a narrative review of this understudied topic to summarize existing knowledge of the incidence, risk factors, pathophysiology, and rates of screening for SD in CCS. We also outline current gaps in knowledge and directions for future research.

Keywords: childhood cancer; late effects; pediatric; sexual dysfunction; sexuality; survivorship.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cancer Survivors / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / psychology*
  • Young Adult