NYMC Faculty Publications

Sexual Health Screening for Gynecologic and Breast Cancer Survivors: A Review and Critical Analysis of Validated Screening Tools

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Sexual Medicine

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Obstetrics and Gynecology


INTRODUCTION: Studies have shown that the sexual health concerns of gynecologic and breast cancer survivors are not adequately being addressed by clinicians. AIM: To provide a comprehensive narrative review of validated sexual health screening tools and aid clinicians in choosing a screening tool that will allow them to best address their patients' sexual health concerns METHODS: A review of PubMed and Google Scholar databases was conducted, using search terms "sexual health", "screening", "tools", "cancer", and "survivors" to identify sexual health screening tools meeting the following inclusion criteria: 1) published in a peer-reviewed journal, 2) were written in English, 3) included breast and/or gynecological cancer patient population, 4) included self-reported measure of sexual health and function, and 5) underwent psychometric validation. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Criteria used to evaluate identified screening tools included ability to assess desire, arousal, satisfaction, orgasm, dyspareunia, solo sexual expression, relationship with partner, body image, distress over changes in sexual function, and support systems. Pre and post- treatment comparisons, differentiation between lack of sexual desire and inability, heterosexual bias, diversity in patient population, and ease of scoring were also evaluated. RESULTS: Based upon the inclusion criteria, the following 10 sexual health screening tools were identified and reviewed: Female Sexual Function Index, European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaires for both Cervical and Endometrial Cancer, Sexual Adjustment and Body Image Scale, Sexual Adjustment and Body Image Scale- Gynecologic Cancer, Sexual Function and Vaginal Changes Questionnaire, Gynaecologic Leiden Questionnaire, Information on Sexual Health: Your Needs after Cancer, Sexual Satisfaction Questionnaire, and Sexual Activity Questionnaire. Most tools assessed satisfaction (n=10), desire (n=9), and dyspareunia (n=8). Fewer addressed objective arousal (n=7), body image/femininity (n=7), partner relationship (n=7), orgasm (n=5), pre/post treatment considerations (n=5), distress (n=4), and solo-sexual expression (n=2). Heterosexual bias (n=3) and failure to differentiate between lack of desire and inability (n=2) were encountered. CONCLUSION: Understanding the strengths and limitations of sexual health screening tools can help clinicians more effectively address cancer survivors' sexual health concerns, which is essential in providing comprehensive care and improving quality of life. Screening tools have room for improvement, such as eliminating heterosexual bias and including cancer and treatment-specific questions. Clinicians can use this guide to select the most appropriate screening tool for their patients and begin bridging the gap in sexual healthcare. Tounkel I, Nalubola S, Schulz A, et al. Sexual Health Screening for Gynecologic and Breast Cancer Survivors: A Review and Critical Analysis of Validated Screening Tools. Sex Med 2022;10:100498.