Identifying distinct trajectories of change in young breast cancer survivors' sexual functioning

Christiana von Hippel, Shoshana M. Rosenberg, S. Bryn Austin, Kim Sprunck-Harrild, Kathryn J. Ruddy, Lidia Schapira, Steven Come, Virginia F. Borges, Ann H. Partridge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objectives: To identify and characterize distinct trajectories of change in young women's sexual functioning over the first 5 years following breast cancer diagnosis. Methods: Group-based trajectory modeling was applied to the sexual functioning of 896 women diagnosed with stage I-IV breast cancer at age 40 or younger. The Cancer Rehabilitation Evaluation System was used to evaluate women's symptoms of sexual dysfunction annually for 5 years. Results: Five distinct trajectories of sexual functioning were identified: one asymptomatic, one minimally symptomatic, two moderately symptomatic, and one severely symptomatic trajectory. Twelve percent of women were asymptomatic throughout follow-up. The plurality of women experienced stable mild symptoms (42%). Among those with moderate symptoms, some experienced improvement over time (22%) while others experienced deterioration (13%); 11% experienced stable severe symptoms that did not remit over time. Independent predictors of experiencing a symptomatic rather than asymptomatic trajectory (P < 0.05, two-sided) included diagnosis with stage 2 versus 1 disease, ER positive disease treated with oophorectomy or ovarian suppression, being partnered, having anxiety, poorer body image, and greater musculoskeletal pain. Conclusions: We identified distinct trajectories that describe the reported sexual symptoms in this cohort of young breast cancer survivors. The majority of women reported various degrees of sexual dysfunction that remained stable over the study period. There is, however, potential for improvement of moderate and severe symptoms of sexual dysfunction in early survivorship.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1033-1040
Number of pages8
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2019


  • breast cancer
  • cancer
  • cancer survivorship
  • oncology
  • quality of life
  • sexual dysfunction
  • sexual functioning
  • trajectory analysis
  • young women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Oncology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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