Cancer survivors have just as much sex and can function as well as others their age, according to a Cancer Research UK funded study published in the journal Cancer.
The survey compared the sex lives and worries of more than 6,500 over-50s, including 560 cancer patients.
It found that around half of all those surveyed had sex regularly.
And the reported sexual problems were similar in both cancer survivors and those who hadn’t had the disease.
For example, around a third of all women said they had problems becoming aroused (31 per cent of cancer patients, compared with 32 per cent of others) and 40 per cent of all men had erectile dysfunction (40 per cent of cancer patients compared with 39 per cent of others).
But, despite similar levels of sexual activity and function, almost a fifth of female cancer survivors (18 per cent) and almost a third of male survivors (31 per cent) reported feeling dissatisfied by their sex lives.
And one in ten female cancer survivors worried about their libido, compared with seven per cent of those who hadn’t had cancer.
Dr Sarah Jackson, study author and psychologist at Cancer Research UK’s Health Behaviour Research Centre, said: “We hope our findings will put cancer survivors’ concerns to rest – showing that they are just as sexually active and function just as well as others their age.”
“Half of patients diagnosed with cancer in the UK will survive their disease for at least 10 years, so it’s important we understand factors like this that affect survivors’ quality of life. The next stage of our research will look at why cancer patients feel less satisfied with their sex lives.”
Martin Ledwick, Cancer Research UK’s head information nurse, said: “Although some cancer treatments are known to impact on sexual function, this study suggests that the majority of cancer patients have similar sexual function and activity as the general population.”
“However, cancer patients in the study were more likely to be dissatisfied with their sex lives even though they didn’t report a higher incidence of sexual dysfunction – like erectile problems in men. This highlights the need for health professionals to make sure they talk about sex with all patients not just the ones whose sexual function is likely to be affected by their cancer or its treatment.”
[hr] Source: Cancer Research UK