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Prostate Health: A Couples Problem

Impact of Prostate Cancer on Sexual Relationships


In this prospective study of localized prostate cancer patients and their partners, we analyzed how partner issues evolve over time, focusing on satisfaction with care, influence of cancer treatment, and its impact on relationship with patient, cancer worry, and personal activities.

Our study aims were twofold: (i) to determine whether the impact of treatment on patients and partners moderate over time and (ii) if receiving surgery (i.e., radical prostatectomy) influences partner issues more than other treatments.

Patients newly diagnosed with localized prostate cancer and their female partners were recruited from three states to complete surveys by mail at three time points over 12 months.

Main Outcome Measures
The four primary outcomes assessed in the partner analysis included satisfaction with treatment, cancer worry, and the influence of cancer and its treatment on their relationship (both general relationship and sexual relationship).

This analysis included 88 patient–partner pairs. At 6 months, partners reported that cancer had a negative impact on their sexual relationship (39%—somewhat negative and 12%—very negative). At 12 months, this proportion increased substantially (42%—somewhat negative and 29%—very negative). Partners were significantly more likely to report that their sexual relationship was worse when the patient reported having surgery (P?=?0.0045, odds ratio?=?9.8025, 95% confidence interval 2.076–46.296). A minority of partners reported significant negative impacts in other areas involving their personal activities (16% at 6 months and 25% at 12 months) or work life (6% at 6 months, which increased to 12% at 12 months).

From partners' perspectives, prostate cancer therapy has negative impact on sexual relationships and appears to worsen over time.


Impact of Prostate Cancer on Sexual Relationships: A Longitudinal Perspective on Intimate Partners' Experiences

  1. Scott D. Ramsey MD, PhD1
  2. Steven B. Zeliadt PhD, MPH2
  3. David K. Blough PhD2,3
  4. Carol M. Moinpour PhD1
  5. Ingrid J. Hall PhD, MPH4
  6. Judith Lee Smith PhD4,
  7. Donatus U. Ekwueme PhD4
  8. Catherine R. Fedorenko MMSc1
  9. Megan E. Fairweather MA1
  10. Lisel M. Koepl MPH1,*
  11. Ian M. Thompson MD5
  12. Thomas E. Keane MBBCh, FRCSI, FACS6
  13. David F. Penson MD, MPH7,8

Article first published online: 30 SEP 2013

DOI: 10.1111/jsm.12295

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