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How can cancer patients maintain healthy sex life?
  • By Marian Chu
  • Published 2018.03.07 15:00
  • Updated 2018.03.07 15:00
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Communication is essential to maintaining a healthy sex life for couples affected by a cancer diagnosis, new research from Samsung Medical Center showed Wednesday.

Research from Samsung Medical Center said cancer patients and their significant others should communicate candidly to maintain a healthy sex life.

The hospital has been teaching cancer patients and their significant others how to have a healthy sex life during or after treatment through its Cancer Education Center since 2008. Despite the educational programs, many couples experienced difficulties, the hospital said.

The research team led by Samsung Medical Center’s Jang Jun-ho from the division of hematology and oncology and Cho Ju-hee from the Cancer Education Center worked with three university hospitals in Seoul and the Korea Blood Cancer Association. They interviewed 91 couples wherein one partner had hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT).

“Although sexual problems of cancer patients have been overlooked so far, it has become a new topic of interest among survivors,” Professor Jang said. “Talking about it candidly is the first step, and therefore it is significant to discuss the matter with your spouses or lovers with an open mind. Education and support are also essential.”

The survey showed only around half of the couples had sex, while most had highly differing opinions toward sex.

Results showed cancer patients who had HSCT rated the importance of sex higher than their healthy partners did. On average, the patients rated its significance as 2.57 out of 4 while the spouses rated it as 2.14 out of 4, showing significant disagreement on a kappa coefficient score.

The difference in opinion was more notable in couples where the cancer patient was a man. Male patients viewed sex more importantly than female patients did (2.81 vs. 2.07).

A lack of communication was the leading cause in the differing attitudes toward sex, the study showed. Only around half of cancer patients said that they talked about sex with their spouse while only 23 percent of their healthy partners said they did so.

A couple was 5.5 times more likely to have a healthy sex life when both the patient and the spouse recognized its importance, Samsung Medical Center said.

The research was published in “Bone Marrow Transplant,” a sister publication of Nature.


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