Background: To determine (i) the prevalence of sexual (dys)function in patients with colorectal cancer and (ii) treatment-related and sociodemographic aspects in relation to sexual (dys)function and the quality of sexual life. Recommendations for future studies are provided.
Methods: A systematic search was conducted during the period 1990 to July 2010 that used the databases PubMed, PsychINFO, The Cochrane Library, EMBASE, and OVID Medline.
Results: Eighty-two studies were included. The mean quality score was 7.2. The percentage of preoperatively potent men that experienced sexual dysfunction postoperatively varied from 5% to 88%. Approximately half of the women reported sexual dysfunction. Preoperative radiotherapy, a stoma, complications during or after surgery, and a higher age predicted more sexual dysfunction with a strong level of evidence. Type of surgery and a lower tumor location predicted more sexual dysfunction with a moderate level of evidence. Insufficient evidence existed for predictors of the quality of sexual life. Current studies mainly focus on biological aspects of sexual (dys)function. Furthermore, existing studies suffer from methodological shortcomings such as a cross-sectional design, a small sample size, and the use of nonstandardized measurements.
Conclusion: Sexuality should be investigated prospectively from a biopsychosocial model, hereby including the quality of sexual life.