(HealthDay News) — Women undergoing treatment for early-stage vulvar cancer generally experience little to no long-term disruption to sexuality or body image, according to a study published online Jan. 17 in the Journal of Advanced Nursing.
Ellen L. Barlow, R.N., from the Royal Hospital for Women in Randwick, Australia, and colleagues conducted a qualitative interview study to describe women’s experiences of sexuality and body image following treatment for early-stage vulvar cancer. A sample of 10 women (mean age, 58 years) was interviewed from June to October 2009. Themes that were common to the women’s experiences of sexuality and body image were identified from thematic analysis of data generated from verbatim transcription of the interviews.
The researchers found that following conservative treatment for early-stage vulvar cancer, most women experienced little to no long-term disruption to sexuality or body image. Women’s sexual satisfaction was more closely linked to intimacy and relationship status than to physical arousal. Radical vulvar excision, multiple vulvar procedures, and/or development of lymphedema were identified as factors contributing to women experiencing negative emotions.
“The findings indicate surprisingly good outcomes for sexuality and body image in women having conservative surgery for early-stage vulvar cancer and support the concept of performing the most conservative vulvar resection consistent with cure of their disease,” the authors write.