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WCLC 2022: SHAWL Study Focuses on Sexual Dysfunction in Women With Lung Cancer

By: Vanessa A. Carter, BS
Posted: Friday, August 19, 2022

Narjust Florez (Duma), MD, of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, and colleagues presented the results of the SHAWL study—the largest study to date evaluating sexual dysfunction of women with lung cancer—during the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) 2022 World Conference on Lung Cancer (WCLC; Abstract MA14.04). The findings suggest that sexual dysfunction is common in this patient population, with most individuals citing fatigue, shortness of breath, and unhappiness as common reasons.

“Sexual health should be integrated into thoracic oncology, and further research is necessary to develop tailored interventions for patients with lung cancer,” stated Dr. Florez in a Dana-Farber press release. “Patients whose sexual health is addressed have better quality of life, better pain control, and better relationships with their partners and their health-care team.”

This global survey study was carried out using the GO2 Foundation’s Lung Cancer Registry and the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System sexual satisfaction and function measures. Participants were required to have a lung cancer diagnosis and self-identify as a woman; they were asked about sexual activity before their diagnosis and over the past 30 days. A total of 249 women completed the survey.

Stage IV lung cancer was the most common diagnosis (64%). Approximately one-third (n = 78) of patients were currently taking antidepressants, and 34 were on beta-blockers. Just over half of participants reported engaging in sexual activity within the past 30 days, 67% said they rarely or never wanted to have sexual activity, and 77% had little to no interest in it.

Of those who engaged in sexual activity in the past 30 days, 59% described significant issues with vaginal dryness, and 26% experienced vaginal discomfort or pain. Of note, a comparison of before and after lung cancer diagnosis demonstrated significant differences in vaginal discomfort or pain (P = .001) and decreased sexual desire (P < .001).

Disclosure: For full disclosures of the study authors, visit library.iaslc.org.


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