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 - Northwestern Memorial Hospital - Chicago

Cancer and Sexuality

Cancer and cancer treatment can have an impact on many, if not, all aspects of an individual's sexuality including sexual desire and physical and psychological sexual dysfunction. There is a range of signs and symptoms that can make sex with your partner more difficult. Knowing more about your cancer treatment and how it may affect sexual function can help you find a solution if problems develop.

Internet Resources

American Cancer Society: Sexuality Issues
One of the most well-known cancer organizations in the United States, the American Cancer Society has many resources available for patients, families, and caregivers.

Cancer.gov : Sexuality Issues
The National Cancer Institute is part of the National Institutes of Health and coordinates the National Cancer Program, including supportive care of cancer patients.

Cancer.net : Sexuality
Designed especially for cancer patients by the cancer professionals of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, this site provides links on several topics.

Mayo Clinic: Sexual Side Effects after Cancer Treatment
The Mayo Clinic health information website is a trusted source of information for this topic and many others.


  • Intimacy after breast cancer: dealing with your body, relationships and sex. Maisano G. 2010.
  • Women Cancer Sex. Katz A. 2009.
  • Sexuality: Gale Encyclopedia of Cancer. Longe J, ed. 2010. Available in print at the Health Learning Center or electronically at http://www.nmh.org/nm/health library virtual library.

Journal Articles

  • “Sexual issues in early and late stage cancer: a review.” Mercadante S et al. Support Care Cancer. 18(6):650-65. 2010.
  • “Alterations of sexual function in men with cancer.” Galbraith ME et al. Seminars in Oncology Nursing. 24(2):102-14. 2008.
  • “Sexual issues in special populations: adolescents and young adults. Bolte S et al. Seminars in Oncology Nursing. 24(2): 115-9. 2008.


  • Breast Cancer and Intimacy. 50 minutes.


Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Alberto Culver Health Learning Center has joined forces with the American Cancer Society’s Patient Navigator Program to provide assistance to patients and families dealing with cancer. To take advantage of this unique service, provided by a licensed clinical social worker, call 312-926-4282.

Contact Us

For more information, please contact the Alberto Culver Health Learning Center at 312-926-5465, or e-mail us at HLC@nmh.org.

Last UpdateNovember 1, 2012