(PHOENIX – Jan. 3, 2022) – Dignity Health Cancer Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center is launching an innovative program to promote sexual health for patients during and after cancer treatment.
The sexual health program will provide services for any cancer patient, regardless of where they underwent cancer treatment. It is estimated that nearly three out of four cancer patients nationally experience some sexual health issues related to their cancer or treatment. Most patients hesitate to bring up sexual health issues and physicians rarely address these issues. For many, improving sexual health is an important step on the journey to a more normal life.
“Sexual health dysfunction is very common among cancer patients,” says George Kallingal, MD, urologic oncologist at Dignity Health Cancer Institute at St. Joseph’s. “It can have a significant impact on their lives and their loved ones. Our physicians will provide a welcoming, non-judgmental atmosphere for patients and offer treatments to improve intimacy and overall sexual health.”
The symptoms and causes of sexual health dysfunction among cancer patients varies, so the clinic will target therapies to each individual. Some cancer treatments directly damage sexual organs, while others may diminish sexual desire.
For men, the most common issue is erectile dysfunction, especially among prostate cancer patients. For women, cancer treatments may trigger abrupt menopause, pain during intimacy, and other sexual health issues. Both men and women may experience post-cancer fatigue and body image issues which can affect self-esteem and their interpersonal relationships.
Along with medical treatments provided by an in-house gynecologist and urologist, the program will offer counseling for patients and their partners.
“Unfortunately, sexual health issues in cancer patients are largely overlooked,” says Nicole Afuape, MD, advanced gynecologic surgeon and pelvic pain specialist at Dignity Health Cancer Institute at St. Joseph’s. “However, we are creating a well-rounded clinical program that is focused on identifying and improving these issues to help the overall quality of life for our patients.”
To learn more about the program, please visit https://www.dignityhealth.org/arizona/locations/stjosephs/services/cancer-institute/cancer-programs/sexual-health-and-healing.