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Do different treatment strategies influence women’s level of psychosexual distress? Observational cohort study of women with premalignant HPV-associated genital lesions

      Abstract

      Objective

      To examine the impact of different treatment strategies - surgical treatment or watchful waiting- on sexual activity, psychosocial distress, and fear of progression in women with Human Papillomavirus (HPV)-associated premalignant genital lesions.

      Study design

      Observational cohort study of women diagnosed with HPV-associated premalignant lesions of the cervix, vagina or vulva. Patients were stratified into two groups depending on the severity of their premalignancy: surgical treatment or watchful waiting. Validated patient administered questionnaires, i.e. Fear of Progression questionnaire (FoP-Q), Cervical Dysplasia Distress Questionnaire (CDDQ), and Sexual Activity Questionnaire (SAQ) were completed after clinical evaluation (baseline), at 6- and 12-months follow-ups.

      Results

      209 women treated with surgery (N = 125) were compared with women who were monitored in regular intervals (N = 82). During an observational period of 12 months there were no significant differences in fear of progression, psychosocial distress, and sexual activity (p > 0.05). The level of concerns and anxiety about the future, and fear of progression were present, mostly at baseline. While there was a small increase of tension from visit to visit in both groups, patients generally were able to cope with their clinical situation quite well.

      Conclusions

      Fear of progression, psychosocial distress and sexual activity in women with precancerous HPV- associated premalignant genital lesions seem to be independent from type of treatment. Both treatment strategies may be applied without major psychological sequelae, as long as adequate information is provided.

      Keywords

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