Sexual problems in patients with hematological diseases: a systematic literature review

Corien Eeltink, Alaa Embaby, Luca Incrocci, Johannes C.F. Ket, Sarah J. Liptrott, Irma Verdonck-de Leeuw, Sonja Zweegman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Purpose: Sexual problems are frequently reported by recipients of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HCT). However, little is known about the impact of hematological malignancies and their treatments, without HCT being a part of the treatment regimen. The goal of this systematic review was to examine the prevalence of various sexual problems among patients treated for hematological malignancies without HCT. Methods: The work focused on online databases available from their inception until 11 November 2020. The data related to sexuality in adult patients diagnosed with hematological malignancies. Selected studies were appraised for methodological quality. Results: Twenty-four studies were included. Twenty-two studies were observational cross-sectional cohort studies, and two studies had a prospective longitudinal design; fourteen studies used non-validated instruments; only two studies used the multidimensional concept of sexuality; six studies compared sexual problems in the target population with reference data. Based on the few high-quality studies, sexual problems occurred in 18–50% of acute leukemia, Hodgkin lymphoma, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma patients. Conclusion: Understanding sexual problems in patients treated for hematological malignancies without HCT is not only hampered by the variability in methodology, but also by the lack of research on patients using novel therapies. The exact impact of the diagnosis and treatment of a hematological malignancy on sexual function remains to be answered. Longitudinal studies focusing on the effects of the diagnosis and treatment of hematological malignancies on sexuality using validated questionnaires and comparison with normative data are hugely needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4603-4616
Number of pages14
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • Hematological malignancy
  • Sexual dissatisfaction
  • Sexual function
  • Sexual problem
  • Sexuality
  • Systematic review

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