Trends in Sexual Function After Breast Cancer Surgery

Lauren F. Cornell, Dawn M. Mussallem, Tammeza C. Gibson, Nancy N. Diehl, Sanjay P. Bagaria, Sarah A. McLaughlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Purpose: Sexual dysfunction is assumed to be common, but understudied, in breast cancer patients. Herein, we use the validated female sexual functioning index (FSFI) to evaluate changes in female sexual function after breast cancer surgery. Methods: The FSFI assesses sexual function in six domains (desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction, pain) on a 36-point scale, with scores >26.6 indicating better sexual function. We identified 226 women with unilateral breast cancer undergoing surgery at our institution from June 2010–January 2015. All completed the FSFI preoperatively and at a median of 13 months postoperatively. We quantified declines in FSFI scores and considered p-values <0.05 statistically significant. Results: Overall, 119 women had breast-conserving surgery (BCS), 40 had unilateral mastectomy (UM), and 67 had UM plus contralateral prophylactic mastectomy (CPM). All women had similar baseline FSFI scores (medians: BCS, 26.3; UM, 25.2; UM+CPM, 23.7; p = 0.23). At follow-up, sexual function had declined significantly in BCS (23.5; p < 0.001) and UM (17.4; p = 0.010), but was unchanged in UM+CPM (22.8; p = 0.74) women. Interestingly, all women maintained their desire for sex (p = 0.17). BCS and UM women demonstrated significant declines in all other subscale domains (all p < 0.045). UM+CPM women demonstrated no decline in any subscale domain, yet did not exhibit superior sexual function to those having UM or BCS (medians: BCS, 23.5; UM, 17.4; UM+CPM, 22.8; p = 0.21). Conclusions: Baseline sexual dysfunction exists in women diagnosed with breast cancer. Surgery negatively impacts sexual function. Patients who choose mastectomy do not exhibit superior sexual function over those having BCS at 13 months following surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2526-2538
Number of pages13
JournalAnnals of surgical oncology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Oncology


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