Cancer patients and care givers too often avoid the candid topic of sexuality

June 2021 Healthy Living Willem van Altena

The Flemish Cancer foundation ‘Kom op tegen Kanker’ (Stand up against cancer) is trying to find out to what extent patients feel able to discuss sexuality during and after cancer treatment with care professionals. The organisation is asking people to volunteer testimonials anonymously on their experiences.

Having cancer, or undergoing cancer treatment can often have a profound impact on intimacy and sexuality of patients and ex-patients, such as changes in libido. Both the disease and the illness can cause physical and psychological complaints. The treatment and its side effects often compound matters even further.

Overcoming barriers

The sexual effects of cancer or cancer treatment can be discussed with care givers, but this doesn’t happen in every case. Both patients as caregivers have to overcome certain barriers in order to bring up the candid topic of sexuality. But according to sexologist Kristel Mulders it is important to have a discussion on this issue. “By addressing this subject right at the outset of cancer treatment, couples can process the information together and prevent certain problems from occurring.

The Cancer foundation is now investigating the issue and calls upon cancer patients, ex-patients and their partners to send in testimonials and to indicate how care givers have adressed the topic of sexuality, and how comfortable they felt discussing these candid matters with care givers.

Set of recommendations

The intention is to use this information in order to formulate a set of recommendations to care givers so they can provide better care and information regarding sexuality and intimacy in a cancer setting.

People who wish to cooperate can anonymously send in a testimonial via the website komoptegenkanker.be/durftevertellen or call the free telephone number of the Kankerlijn 0800-35445.

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