In Portugal, with a divorce rate of ∼60%, there is a perception of a greater rate of divorces/separations (D/S) among women with breast cancer (BC), but evidence is lacking and data are contradictory. Deeper knowledge is essential for anticipated psychosocial interventions. This study aimed to evaluate marital status, sexual health and its predictors in BC survivors.
This was a pilot, cross-sectional, single-centre study. An anonymous questionnaire was delivered to women diagnosed with breast cancer in the last 12 months. Statistical analysis with descriptive statistics, measures of association, multinomial and logistic regression to evaluate risk predictor, with StataIC was performed.
A total of 116 questionnaires were analysed, median age 56y (28-91), 33% of respondents had a high degree of education, 74% had a partner at dx. Most women underwent chemotherapy (81%), radiotherapy (84%) and hormone therapy (80%); 52% mastectomy and 27% had metastatic (mx) disease. D/S after dx was reported by 14% and half indicated BC dx as the cause. After dx, 53% described lack of pleasure and/or sexual satisfaction, 44% reported insecurity and 55% deterioration of the sexual relations (SR). However, 81% considered partner support fundamental. On multivariate analysis, time from diagnosis was a predictor of deterioration of SR (OR 2.73, P=0.001, IC 95% 1.49-4.99), with significance for 2 years after diagnosis. Despite no predictors of D/S being identified, a negative correlation was found between support after dx (OR 0.22 P=0.012 95% CI 0.06-0.79), active SR (OR 0.18, p=0.010 95% CI 0.05-0.69) and sexual pleasure (OR 0.27 p=0.049 95% CI 0.07-0.99), divorce being positively correlated with mx disease (OR 3.09 P=0.048 95% CI 1.00-9.52).
This study ascertains the population of BC survivors and their marital framework. Time since dx seems to be an impacting factor on SR decline, exemplifying the importance of adequate long-term support for survivors. D/S rates, though low, were mainly due to BC dx and women with mx BC might be at greater risk.
Clinical trial identification
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Has not received any funding.
All authors have declared no conflicts of interest.