The objective of this study was to examine patterns of care and outcomes of female cancer patients treated for sexual and menopausal symptoms following pelvic radiotherapy (PRT) at our institution’s multidisciplinary Sexuality, Intimacy, and Menopause (SIMS) Program.
We performed a retrospective review of 69 female patients who received PRT for gynecologic or gastrointestinal malignancies and were referred for SIMS Program intervention. Indications for referral and treatment patterns were summarized. Preintervention and postintervention, patients were screened at follow-up visits, and symptoms were recorded. Statistics were performed using Stata 13.1.
Cancer types included cervical (53.6%), endometrial (31.9%), anorectal (5.8%), and vulvar/vaginal (8.7%). The median age was 48 years (interquartile range: 38 to 58 y). Patients were educated on vaginal lubricants, moisturizers, and dilator therapy both before and after PRT. Reasons for SIMS referral included persistent menopausal symptoms (50.7%), dyspareunia (40.6%), vaginal dryness (37.7%), decreased libido (17.4%), intimacy concerns (17.4%), and/or physical examination alterations (27.5%). SIMS interventions included vaginal estrogen (77.3%), nonhormonal climacteric interventions (53%), systemic hormone therapy (31.8%), dehydroepiandrosterone (4.6%), testosterone cream (4.6%), and/or psychological pharmacotherapy or counseling (13.6%). With a median follow-up of 36 months (interquartile range: 18 to 58 mo), sexual symptoms improved or were stable in 83.6%, while menopausal symptoms improved or were stable in 80.5%.
This study highlights the importance of multidisciplinary care in improving the sexual and menopausal symptoms of women after PRT. Future work examining the impact of intervention timing with respect to PRT and measures of patient satisfaction is warranted.