How does adjuvant chemotherapy affect menopausal symptoms, sexual function, and quality of life after breast cancer?

J.L. Marino, Christobel M. Saunders, Laura I. Emery, H. Green, Dorota Doherty, M. Hickey

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    31 Citations (Scopus)


    © 2016 by The North American Menopause Society.
    Objective: The aim of the study was to determine the association between adjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer and menopausal symptoms, sexual function, and quality of life. Methods: Participants attended a menopause clinic with a dedicated service for cancer survivors at a large tertiary women's hospital. Information about breast cancer treatments including adjuvant chemotherapy was collected from medical records. Menopausal symptoms were recorded with the Greene Climacteric Scale and Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy, Breast Cancer, and Endocrine Symptom Subscales. Sexual symptoms were recorded using Fallowfield's Sexual Activity Questionnaire. Quality of life was measured with Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy scales. Results: The severity of vasomotor, psychological, or sexual symptoms (apart from pain) did not differ between those who had received adjuvant chemotherapy (n=339) and other breast cancer survivors (n=465). After adjustment for current age, time since menopause, and current use of antiestrogen endocrine therapy, the risk of "severe pain" with sexual intercourse was twice as common after chemotherapy (31.6% vs 20.0%, odds ratio [OR] 2.18, 95% CI 1.25-3.79). Those treated with chemotherapy were more likely to report "severe problems" with physical well-being (OR 1.92, 95% CI 1.12-3.28) and lower breast cancer-specific quality of life (OR 1.89 95% CI 1.13-3.18), but did not differ in other quality of life measures. Conclusions: In this large study of breast cancer patients presenting to a specialty menopause clinic, previous chemotherapy was not associated with current vasomotor or psychological symptoms. Severe pain with intercourse was significantly more common in those treated with adjuvant chemotherapy.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1000-1008
    Number of pages9
    Issue number9
    Publication statusPublished - 23 Aug 2016


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