By the year 2024, predictions estimate that there will be approximately 19 million cancer survivors in the United States, many of whom will experience the physical and/or psychosocial long-term effects of cancer and its treatment. Although sexual dysfunction is common among these individuals, causing increased distress and negatively impacting quality of life, this critical part of survivorship care is often underrecognized and undertreated. At the NCCN 21st Annual Conference, Drs. Melisko and Narus reviewed the sexual function recommendations in the NCCN Guidelines for Survivorship, offering practical strategies for assessing and managing both female and male sexual dysfunction.
Michelle E. Melisko and Joseph B. Narus
Courtney Lawhn Heath, Laura J. Esserman, Robert R. Flavell, and Michelle E. Melisko
Colby J. Hyland, Flora Varghese, Christina Yau, Heather Beckwith, Katia Khoury, William Varnado, Gillian L. Hirst, Robert R. Flavell, A. Jo Chien, Douglas Yee, Claudine J. Isaacs, Andres Forero-Torres, Laura J. Esserman, and Michelle E. Melisko
Background: Metastatic staging imaging is not recommended for asymptomatic patients with stage I–II breast cancer. Greater distant metastatic disease risk may warrant baseline imaging in patients with stage II–III with high-risk biologic subtypes. NCCN Guidelines recommend considering CT of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis (CT CAP) and bone scan in appropriate patients. CT CAP and bone scan are considered standard of care (SoC), although PET/CT is a patient-centered alternative. Methods: Data were available for 799 high-risk patients with clinical stage II–III disease who initiated screening for the I-SPY2 trial at 4 institutions. A total of 564 complete records were reviewed to compare PET/CT versus SoC. Costs were determined from the payer perspective using the national 2018 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule and representative reimbursements to the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) measured cost of using PET/CT per percent of patients who avoided a false-positive (FP). Results: The de novo metastatic disease rate was 4.6%. Imaging varied across the 4 institutions (P<.0001). The FP rate was higher using SoC versus PET/CT (22.1% vs 11.1%; P=.0009). Mean time between incidental finding on baseline imaging to FP determination was 10.8 days. Mean time from diagnosis to chemotherapy initiation was 44.3 days with SoC versus 37.5 days with PET/CT (P=.0001). Mean cost per patient was $1,132 (SoC) versus $1,477 (PET/CT) using the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule, with an ICER of $31. Using representative reimbursements to UCSF, mean cost per patient was $1,236 (SoC) versus $1,073 (PET/CT) for Medicare, and $3,083 (SoC) versus $1,656 (PET/CT) for a private payer, with ICERs of −$15 and −$130, respectively. Conclusions: Considerable variation exists in metastatic staging practices. PET/CT reduced FP risk by half and decreased workup of incidental findings, allowing for earlier treatment start. PET/CT may be cost-effective, and at one institution was shown to be cost-saving. Better alignment is needed between hospital pricing strategies and payer coverage policies to deliver high-value care.
Cancer treatment, especially hormonal therapy and therapy directed toward the pelvis, can contribute to sexual problems, as can depression and anxiety, which are common in cancer survivors. Thus, sexual dysfunction is common in survivors and can cause increased distress and have a significant negative impact on quality of life. This section of the NCCN Guidelines for Survivorship provides screening, evaluation, and treatment recommendations for female sexual problems, including those related to sexual desire, arousal, orgasm, and pain.
Various anticancer treatments, especially those directed toward the pelvis, can damage blood vessels and reduce circulation of blood to the penis and/or damage the autonomic nervous system, resulting in higher rates of erectile dysfunction in survivors than in the general population. In addition, hormonal therapy can contribute to sexual problems, as can depression and anxiety, which are common in cancer survivors. This section of the NCCN Guidelines for Survivorship provides screening, evaluation, and treatment recommendations for male sexual problems, namely erectile dysfunction.
Many cancer survivors experience physical and/or psychosocial side effects, which can be severe, debilitating, and sometimes permanent. These NCCN Guidelines for Survivorship provide screening, evaluation, and treatment recommendations for common consequences of cancer and cancer treatment for health care professionals who work with survivors of adult-onset cancer in the posttreatment period. These introductory sections of the guidelines include the panel’s definition of cancer survivors, a discussion of the effects of cancer and its treatment, general principles and standards for survivorship care, and guidance regarding screening for problems that require further assessment.
Sleep disorders, including insomnia and excessive sleepiness, affect a significant proportion of patients with cancer and survivors, often in combination with fatigue, anxiety, and depression. Improvements in sleep lead to improvements in fatigue, mood, and quality of life. This section of the NCCN Guidelines for Survivorship provides screening, diagnosis, and management recommendations for sleep disorders in survivors. Management includes combinations of sleep hygiene education, physical activity, psychosocial interventions, and pharmacologic treatments.
Many posttreatment cancer survivors experience chronic pain, often leading to psychological distress; decreased activity, motivation, and personal interactions; and an overall poor quality of life. This section of the NCCN Guidelines for Survivorship provides screening and management recommendations for pain in survivors. A multidisciplinary approach is recommended, with a combination of pharmacologic treatments, psychosocial and behavioral interventions, physical therapy and exercise, and interventional procedures.
Many cancer survivors report that fatigue is a disruptive symptom even after treatment ends. Persistent cancer-related fatigue affects quality of life, because individuals become too tired to fully participate in the roles and activities that make life meaningful. Identification and management of fatigue remains an unmet need for many cancer survivors. This section of the NCCN Guidelines for Survivorship provides screening, evaluation, and management recommendations for fatigue in survivors. Management includes education and counseling, physical activity, psychosocial interventions, and pharmacologic treatments.
Crystal S. Denlinger, Jennifer A. Ligibel, Madhuri Are, K. Scott Baker, Wendy Demark-Wahnefried, Don Dizon, Debra L. Friedman, Mindy Goldman, Lee Jones, Allison King, Grace H. Ku, Elizabeth Kvale, Terry S. Langbaum, Kristin Leonardi-Warren, Mary S. McCabe, Michelle Melisko, Jose G. Montoya, Kathi Mooney, Mary Ann Morgan, Javid J. Moslehi, Tracey O’Connor, Linda Overholser, Electra D. Paskett, Jeffrey Peppercorn, Muhammad Raza, M. Alma Rodriguez, Karen L. Syrjala, Susan G. Urba, Mark T. Wakabayashi, Phyllis Zee, Nicole R. McMillian, and Deborah A. Freedman-Cass
Healthy lifestyle habits have been associated with improved health outcomes and quality of life and, for some cancers, a reduced risk of recurrence and death. The NCCN Guidelines for Survivorship therefore recommend that cancer survivors be encouraged to achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle, including attention to weight management, physical activity, and dietary habits. This section of the NCCN Guidelines focuses on recommendations regarding nutrition, weight management, and supplement use in survivors. Weight management recommendations are based on the survivor’s body mass index and include discussions of nutritional, weight management, and physical activity principles, with referral to community resources, dietitians, and/or weight management programs as needed.