Cancer clinic expands to meet growing patient demand

News / Cancer Care
By Meaghan Quinn

Clinic helps patients discuss sexual health during cancer journey

Cancer treatment can help improve the quality and longevity of your life, but sometimes the treatment can have negative effects in other areas that aren’t as obvious. One area that is often overlooked is the impact it can have on a patient’s sexual health.

A clinic run out of the Cancer Centre of Southeastern Ontario is helping make it easier for patients to discuss their sexual health. In fact, this clinic has proven to be such a valuable resource for patients and their families that it’s expanding to meet the patient demand in a timely manner.

“Staff and patients have embraced the opportunity to raise awareness of the clinic and address gaps around discussing sexual health that can be covered during our clinic times,” says Janet Giroux, Nurse Practitioner. “Due to our increase in referrals we were seeing an increase in wait times for our patients and knew we needed to find a solution to help address these questions and concerns in a timely manner. Sexual health is an important quality of life issue and we want to ensure we are delivering the best patient care possible.”

To help meet this demand, the Cancer Centre Sexual Health Clinic has begun offering an additional two clinics days a month, doubling the number that were previously available.

In the clinic patients are able to address sexual concerns as a result of their cancer treatment. Care involves focused assessment, interventions and short-term follow-up covered over two-to-three visits. Interventions focus on psychosocial support and self-management education and treatment of concerns will occur in partnership with the patients’ primary health care team.

“A goal of this clinic is to help normalize sexual health concerns and provide an environment that is comfortable for patients and their families to discuss their changing sexual and emotional needs,” says Debora Stark, Social Worker.  “This clinic is another form of rehabilitation for our patients. If you had a stroke you would need to learn to walk again, and this clinic is another tool to help our patients be successful and improve their quality of life.”

The clinic first began as a pilot in January 2016 after it was identified as a need for patients.  As a staff-initiated clinic to help address this gap, the Cancer Centre Sexual Health Clinic is an evolving service currently run by a team who manage it without dedicated resources in addition to their everyday workloads.

“We knew this was a need for our patients and we wanted to figure out what tools and knowledge we could bring together to make this type of care come to life,” says Stark. “An exciting part of this work is that we are one of the few Cancer Centres to offer a clinic like this and we are now getting calls from other Cancer Centres to learn how we implemented it here.”

The Cancer Centre Sexual Health Clinic is open to any patient who has received cancer care in our southeastern Ontario region. For more information, please speak to any member of your care team.