Female erectile tissues and sexual dysfunction after pelvic radiotherapy: A scoping review

Deborah C. Marshall, Elizabeth S. Tarras, Ayesha Ali, Julie Bloom, Mylin A. Torres, Jenna M. Kahn

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Sexual function is a vital aspect of human health and is recognized as a critical component of cancer survivorship. Understanding and evaluating the impacts of radiotherapy on female sexual function requires precise knowledge of the organs involved in sexual function and the relationship between radiotherapy exposure and sexual tissue function. Although substantial evidence exists describing the impact of radiotherapy on male erectile tissues and related clinical sexual outcomes, there is very little research in this area in females. The lack of biomedical data in female patients makes it difficult to design studies aimed at optimizing sexual function postradiotherapy for female pelvic malignancies. This scoping review identifies and categorizes current research on the impacts of radiotherapy on normal female erectile tissues, including damage to normal functioning, clinical outcomes of radiation-related female erectile tissue damage, and techniques to spare erectile tissues or therapies to treat such damage. An evaluation of the evidence was performed, and a summary of findings was generated according to Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) Extension for Scoping Reviews guidelines. Articles were included in the review that involved normal female erectile tissues and radiotherapy side effects. The results show that little scientific investigation into the impacts of radiotherapy on female erectile tissues has been performed. Collaborative scientific investigations by clinical, basic, and behavioral scientists in oncology and radiotherapy are needed to generate radiobiologic and clinical evidence to advance prospective evaluation, prevention, and mitigation strategies that may improve sexual outcomes in female patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCA Cancer Journal for Clinicians
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • cancer
  • female sexual toxicity
  • radiotherapy
  • sexual dysfunction
  • survivorship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Oncology

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