Ob-Gyns Address Impact of Breast Cancer Treatments

February 21, 2012

Washington, DC -- As many women treated for breast cancer can attest, surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy treatments often affect other facets of their health. To address these problems, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College) has released new recommendations for ob-gyns to help identify and treat common gynecologic side effects of cancer treatment.

Women treated for breast cancer can suffer a variety of both short- and long-term side effects ranging from hot flashes, vaginal dryness, osteoporosis, premature menopause, loss of fertility, body image problems, and sexual dysfunction, including loss of sex drive and painful sex. These vary depending on the individual woman and the type of treatment she receives.

The new guidelines outline some of the therapies that can help women prevent or deal with health problems and concerns after breast cancer treatment. Vaginal lubricants and moisturizers, for instance, can help with vaginal dryness. Lifestyle changes like diet and relaxation techniques may help with certain side effects, while medication may be necessary for some of the more serious post-cancer treatment problems such as osteoporosis. Estrogen-sensitive breast cancer survivors who cannot take hormone therapy may find hot flash relief with antidepressant medication. Women who retain their fertility after breast cancer may elect to avoid hormonal contraception, but can use condoms, diaphragms, copper IUDs, and sterilization to avoid unplanned pregnancy. Becoming pregnant after breast cancer is possible and is not believed to increase breast cancer recurrence.

Practice Bulletin #126 “Management of Gynecologic Issues for Breast Cancer Patients” is published in the March issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.


Other recommendations issued in this month’s Obstetrics & Gynecology:

Committee Opinion #519 “Fatigue and Patient Safety” (Revised)
ABSTRACT: It has long been recognized that fatigue can affect human cognitive and physical function. Although there are limited published data on the effects of fatigue on health care providers, including full-time practicing physicians, there is increasing awareness within the patient safety movement that fatigue, even partial sleep deprivation, may impair performance.

Committee Opinion #520 “Disclosure and Discussion of Adverse Events” (NEW!)
ABSTRACT: Disclosure and discussion of adverse events in health care with the patient are not only moral and ethical but are also the optimal goals in respecting patient autonomy. Improving the disclosure process through education, policies, programmatic training, and accessible resources will enhance patient satisfaction, strengthen the physician-patient relationship, reduce physician stress and most importantly, promote a safer and higher quality of health care.

” (NEW!)Pertussis VaccinationUpdate on Immunization and Pregnancy: Tetanus, Diptheria, and Committee Opinion #521 “ABSTRACT: In light of the recent increase of pertussis in the United States, in 2011 the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approved recommendations for the use of the tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid, and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine for pregnant women and updated Tdap recommendations for special situations during pregnancy and for persons in contact with infants. There is no evidence of adverse fetal effects from vaccinating pregnant women with an inactivated virus or bacterial vaccines or toxoids, and these should be administered if indicated (preferably after 20 weeks gestation). The College’s Committee on Obstetric Practice supports the revised recommendations on the administration of Tdap during pregnancy which are summarized in this document.


*  * Press registration is now open for the Annual Clinical Meeting in San Diego, CA, May 5–9, 2012! *  *

Annual Clinical Meeting


The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College), a 501(c)(3) organization, is the nation’s leading group of physicians providing health care for women. As a private, voluntary, nonprofit membership organization of approximately 55,000 members, The College strongly advocates for quality health care for women, maintains the highest standards of clinical practice and continuing education of its members, promotes patient education, and increases awareness among its members and the public of the changing issues facing women’s health care. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a 501(c)(6) organization, is its companion organization.


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