Introduction: Erectile dysfunction (ED) is prevalent among adolescent young adult (AYA) males and has been studied in several different AYA populations. Sexual health, however, has never been evaluated in those young males who have been diagnosed with cancer and are currently undergoing or recently completed treatment of any kind. Our goal was to evaluate the sexual health and the potential patient barriers to obtaining sexual health information of AYA males currently diagnosed with cancer who are either undergoing or recently completed treatment.
Methods: Two validated surveys – the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF-6) and the Masturbation Erection Index (MEI) were distributed in clinic to AYA male patients who met eligibility criteria. Eligible subjects included AYA males aged 18-39 who are currently diagnosed with a cancer of any kind who are scheduled to begin, are actively receiving, or have recently completed cancer treatment within the last 6 months. In addition to the surveys, we acquired baseline characteristics and type of treatment. If a patient was unable to complete a survey, the reason for failure to complete or participate in the study was obtained.
Results: A total of 22 out of the 72 (30.6%) eligible patients completed the surveys. The median IIEF score was 27.5 (IQR 4.25-29) and the median MEI score was 27.0 (IQR 25-30). Of note, 63.6% (14/22) of the subjects were sexually active with a partner. The median IIEF score of the sexually active patients was 29.0 (IQR 27.25-30). When evaluating the reasons for why subjects did not participate, the 3 most common reasons were patient declining to participate (70%), surveys not provided to patient due to oncologist discomfort with discussing sexual health (16%) and missed appointment due to hospital admission (6%).
Conclusions: Only 30.6% of AYA men with cancer who were eligible for participation ultimately were evaluated for sexual health. Although sexual health is insufficiently addressed in AYA males with cancer, it appears that they have good erections both during sexual intercourse and masturbation. We need to continue to improve education amongst Oncologists and advanced practice providers so that we can better address the sexual health among AYA patients with a cancer diagnosis. Source of