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02.11.2017 Sex after gynaecological radiation therapy no longer taboo

Gynäkologische Onkologie

Gynaecological cancers such as cervical cancer are among the most common causes of cancer deaths in women. For a long time, sexual activity had been a taboo subject for female cancer patients. Thanks to new research and modern radiation therapy, it is now possible for patients to maintain a healthy sex life.

Around 150 patients diagnosed with gynaecological cancers (such as cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancer) receive radiation therapy at Vienna General Hospital each year. New treatments now make it possible to target the tumour precisely so that side effects, such as changes to the vagina, are significantly reduced. Better planning also means that the tumour can be targeted with higher dose radiation, while at the same time reducing the effect on healthy tissue and the surrounding organs, particularly the vagina. “This modern internal and external radiation therapy means that treatment can be precisely tuned to the needs of the individual patient,” explained Prof. Heinz Kölbl, head of the Division of General Gynecology and Gynecologic Oncology at the Medical University of Vienna, and president of the European Society of Gynaecological Oncology Congress from 4-7 November. “These developments do not only increase quality of life in general for patients, but also allow them to remain sexually active. To break down the taboos surrounding the subject of sexual activity despite gynaecological cancer and following cancer treatment, we are offering a specialist sexual health consultation service for patients,” Kölbl added.  

HPV vaccine and test reduce cancer risk by more than 90%
Austria is a pioneer in the prevention of gynaecological cancers, and particularly in the types of the disease caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). “Currently, around 400 Austrian women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, and 800 people suffer from cancers that are caused by HPV,” so Kölbl. HPV infects cutaneous and mucosal epithelial cells and can lead to tumour-like growths. Austria is the first country to offer all schoolchildren in fourth grade, i.e. boys and girls aged nine or above, free vaccines against HPV. Vaccinations are also available from paediatricians and health centres. It is important that girls and boys are vaccinated before their first sexual contact because men can also develop cancer as a result of infection with HPV, or go on to infect their sexual partners with the virus. “The new 9-component vaccination against HPV, which MedUni Vienna played a major role in developing, and the new HPV smear as secondary prevention can reduce the cancer risk by more than 90 percent for women,” Kölbl noted. Preventive check-ups are essential for all women. 

About the ESGO Congress
With around 3,300 participants, the Congress of the European Society of Gynaecological Oncology (ESGO) is the largest of its kind in Europe. The international meeting, which focuses on all of the key issues surrounding the discipline, will take place between 4 and 7 November at the Austria Center Vienna this year. 

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diagnosis gynaecological cancer (c) IAKW-AG, iStock/YakobchukOlena
radiotherapy (c) IAKW-AG, iStock/skynesher
Heinz Kölbl (c) Heinz Kölbl


About IAKW-AG 
Internationales Amtssitz- und Konferenzzentrum Wien, Aktiengesellschaft (IAKW-AG) is responsible for maintaining the Vienna International Centre (VIC) and operating the Austria Center Vienna (ACV). The Austria Center Vienna is Austria’s largest conference centre, with 24 halls, 180 meeting rooms, and some 22,000m² of exhibition space, and is one of the top players on the international conference circuit. Visit www.acv.at for additional information. 

Contact
IAKW-AG – Austria Center Vienna
Claudia Reis
Press Officer
Tel: +43-676 3199-523
Email: claudia.reis@acv.at