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Communicating about sexuality in cancer care 

Communicating about sexuality in cancer care
Communicating about sexuality in cancer care

John W. Robinson

, Joshua J. Lounsberry

, and Lauren M. Walker

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date: 01 December 2020

Extensive research has shown that cancer, and the treatment thereof, can interfere with healthy sexual functioning. Indeed, sexual dysfunction is frequently cited as one of the top adverse effects of cancer treatment. However, while healthcare professionals routinely discuss quality-of-life issues with cancer patients, the literature suggest that too often this does not include an assessment of sexual concerns. This chapter explains how the responsibility to initiate discussion on sexuality rests with the healthcare professional. Establishing the sexuality information needs of the cancer patient can sometimes be difficult and it becomes more so when healthcare professionals make erroneous assumptions concerning sexuality. Whether or not to assess sexuality is no longer a question, it must be a routine part of cancer care. While there are several different intervention models for patients suffering from sexual difficulties, the PLISSIT model is frequently used in cancer centres and easily adapted to various types of practice.

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