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Do Austrian Radio-Oncologists integrate sexual health in daily cancer-treatment? Self-assessment-results at the annual meeting of the Austrian Society for Radio-Oncology, Linz, October 2017

Ucsnik, L1; Kottmel, A2; Körbel, TH1; Bitzer, J3; Teleky, B1; Schratter-Sehn, A.U.4

1: Medical University Vienna, Austria; 2: Private Practice for Gynecology and Sexual Medicine; 3: Private Practice, Switzerland; 4: Public Hospital Sout-East, Vienna Hospital Chain Ltd, President of the Society for Austrian Radio-Oncology, Austria

Introduction: Radiation-therapy, its co-morbidities and side-effects do have a well-known impact on patients body function, such as continence of stuhl, urine, as well as sexual function and also causes inflammation, strictures, pain which all together influence negatively cancer patients’ quality of life. We wanted to analyze via self-assessment-questionnaire whether radio-oncologists thus do tackle sexual health issues arising during and after radiation-therapy in daily routine in Austria.

Method: At the annual meeting of the Austrian society for radio-oncologists, Linz, October 2017, 41 of the 92 participants evaluated the integration of sexual health problems in their medical treatment.

Results: 61% were female, 20% male. 46% worked in public hospital, 17% in university hospital. 46% of the doctors stated to ask up to 20% of the patients, 34% between 21 and 40% of the patients about sexual function. 78% stated that up to 20% of the patients addressed questions on troubled sexuality. 32% of the radio-oncologists considered between 61 and 80% of the patients having sexual health issues without tackling them actively. Other topics more important (73%) and lack of time (37%) were the reasons suggested by doctors why patients didn’t pose questions on sexuality in the course of treatment. Concrete diagnoses (76%), control examinations (63%), before surgery and andro-/menopause (56% each) were rated situations when doctors should actively address sexual health problems. Radio-oncologists mainly refer the patients to other specialists. None offered further sexual medicine support.

Conclusion: More than 60% of the patients treated by the Austrian radio-oncologists participating in the survey were not asked about sexual health issues. More than 80% of the patients did not address the topic although 1/3 had considerations. Sexual health needs to be reframed as important for and an essential aspect of professional daily treatment by radio-oncologists in order to reprioritize the issues talked about with patients. Inter-professional networks as well professionally designed training-concepts in sexual medicine are needed in order to reduce the workload and increase the multidisciplinary cooperation.


Work supported by industry: no.

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