Tuesday, July 28 • 1:00pm - 5:00pm
11: Assessing and Treating Cancer-Related Sexual Changes (Half-Day Workshop, PM)

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Assessing and Treating Cancer-Related Sexual Changes

Speakers: Mary K. Hughes MS RN CNS and Christian J. Nelson PhD

Psychosocial oncologists assist patients with quality of life issues, but often fail to address sexuality changes as a result of cancer or its treatment. Sexual dysfunction is one of the more common and enduring aftereffects of cancer treatment. Sexual problems are observed in at least 50% of survivors of breast cancer and gynecological cancer, as well as up to 90% of men treated for prostate cancer. Impairment in sexual functioning depends on the type of treatment, the type of cancer, their gender, and their age. Typically at least 20% of men and women report new sexual problems after cancer treatment.

For both genders, typical dysfunctions include decreased or absent sexual desire and difficulty feeling arousal and pleasure. Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the other frequent complaint for men, and sexual changes related to sudden menopause—reduced vaginal elasticity and lubrication, and subsequent pain during sexual activity are common for women. Difficulty achieving orgasm is less common for men or women, and is often secondary to having sex with little erotic desire or arousal. 

Women have fewer medical treatment options because of the type of cancer they had. Some women benefit from tailored hormone replacement, vaginal muscle training and/or use of vaginal dilators, topical creams, or reconstructive surgery. Other treatment options such as erotic devices, behavioral techniques, or erotica may be helpful in addressing sexual dysfunction. Sometimes couples counseling can be helpful to improve the sexual relationship. 

This workshop will focus on the beginner or intermediate clinician and ways to help with assessing and treating cancer-related sexual dysfunction. The clinicians will learn about the medical, psychological, and social causes of sexual dysfunction as well as medical and behavioral treatments available. How to conduct a psychosocial assessment of sexual function in a cancer setting will be discussed as well as techniques of basic sexual counseling. Resources for appropriate referrals will be discussed.

At the end of the 4-hour workshop, the attendee will be able to:
  1. Describe the components of sexuality.
  2. List 3 possible causes of sexual dysfunction in the patient treated for cancer.
  3. Describe 3 possible treatments for erectile dysfunction, vaginal dryness, or low libido.

Tuesday July 28, 2015 1:00pm - 5:00pm
Judiciary Square Meeting Level 3

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