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According to a new study, oral cancer patients have significantly less vaginal and oral sex after diagnosis than before. (Photograph: Photographee.eu/Shutterstock)
0 Comments Feb 21, 2017 | News Americas

Oral cancer diagnosis affects sexual behavior

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COLUMBUS, Ohio, USA: Oral cancer affects the overall well-being of patients in a number of ways. According to new research, the diagnosis and treatment of oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) has significant effects on the sexual behavior of patients too, an important factor for quality of life. In a recently published study, many patients and their partners reported significant declines in the frequency of vaginal and oral sex after diagnosis.

In order to evaluate the impact of OSCC diagnosis and treatment on sexual behavior, with respect to human papillomavirus (HPV) status in particular, researchers at the Ohio State University enrolled 262 patients with OSCC, of whom 54.2 percent had HPV-positive disease and 45.8 percent had HPV-negative disease, and 81 partners. All of the participants completed a survey assessing HPV transmission and concerns about health consequences, relationship distress and sexual behavior at diagnosis and at a six-month follow-up appointment.

The results of the survey showed that relationship stress was not common among participants. For example, 69 percent even reported that their relationship had strengthened since their cancer diagnosis. However, 25 percent of patients with HPV-positive disease and 14 percent of their partners reported feelings of guilt or responsibility for the diagnosis of an HPV-caused cancer. About 50 percent of patients had concerns over sexual HPV transmission to partners.

Overall, significant decline in the frequency of vaginal and oral sexual behavior was reported six months after diagnosis, irrespective of tumor HPV status. Over the study period, abstinence from vaginal sex significantly increased from 10 percent at baseline to 34 percent and abstinence from oral sex increased from 25 to 80 percent.

The study, titled “Significant changes in sexual behavior after a diagnosis of human papillomavirus-positive and human papillomavirus-negative oral cancer,” was published online on Feb. 14 in the Cancer journal ahead of print. It was conducted in collaboration with the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute and the University of Barcelona in Spain and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

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