Survey Reveals Impairment in Sexual Function Among Germ-Cell Tumor Survivors

Germ cell tumors are growths that form from reproductive cells, which can be malignant or benign. In men, these tumors typically form in the testicles. The plus side is these tumors tend to respond well to treatment, even when diagnosed at later stages. However, one problem still persists after a cure.
BY Kristie L. Kahl
PUBLISHED February 09, 2018
Men reported sexual function impairments following treatment for their germ-cell tumors, especially those who received chemotherapy plus radiotherapy, according to study results presented at the 2018 Genitourinary Cancers Symposium.

Germ cell tumors are growths that form from reproductive cells, which can be malignant or benign. In men, these tumors typically form in the testicles. The plus side is these tumors tend to respond well to treatment, even when diagnosed at later stages. However, one problem still persists after a cure.

“Treatment for germ-cell tumors may lead to long-term consequences in germ-cell tumor survivors,” the researchers wrote. “This study aimed to evaluate a long-term sexual functioning after curative treatment for germ-cell tumors.”

Researchers identified 155 germ-cell tumor survivors from the National Cancer Institute in Bratislava, Slovakia. Patients completed a Sexual Function Questionnaire that was modified from PROMIS Sexual Function and Satisfaction Questionnaire at approximately 10 years of follow up.

Seventeen survivors who had orchiectomy served as the control group, while the remaining 138 survivors received treatment beyond orchiectomy, including cisplatin-based chemotherapy, radiotherapy to the retroperitoneal lymph nodes or both.

Survivors treated with both chemotherapy and radiotherapy, or any treatment, had difficulty maintaining an erection during intercourse compared with the control arm. Similarly, those treated with both chemotherapy and radiotherapy reported difficulty in achieving orgasm during intercourse and were disappointed with their overall quality of sex life.

However, survivors reported no differences in their sexual desire and in the number of attempts to initiate sexual intercourse in the month before follow-up. In addition, both groups reported none or mild anxiety resulting from sexual relationships, and the desire to be sexually active was moderate among all subgroups.

“Our prospective study shows that an impairment in sexual function is a significant issue for long-term germ-cell tumor survivors,” the researchers wrote. “Treatment with chemotherapy plus radiotherapy had the highest impact on the quality of sex life.”
 
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