The Scientific Network on Female Sexual Health and Cancer
Letter from the Chair
Thank you for being a part of our community of scientists, clinicians, activists, and patients who are interested in advancing the sexual health of women and girls with cancer!

We want to give a warm welcome and thank you to the new members and attendees of our 6th Conference of the Scientific Network which was held in Durham, North Carolina on September 27-28. It was incredibly rewarding and exciting to see so many new faces at this conference from different fields and perspectives. Thank you for helping us make this conference a success! We had 75 attendees at this conference…the most we have had yet at a Scientific Network conference! And the Network is growing. We have 4 active committees (Membership, Newsletter, Social Media, and Website) as well as writing groups and our 2019 conference planning group. If you want to be involved in any of these, let us know!

In addition to attending our annual conference, there are many ways you can become involved with the Network. Read on to learn about what is happening in the Network more broadly.

We’re pleased to share that we offered our first pre-conference workshop for continuing education credits in conjunction with our conference and it was a great success! This workshop included talks given by renown experts in women’s sexual health in cancer and was attended by 52 attendees. The responses of workshop attendees were overall extremely positive. We are already working to incorporate feedback into future CE offerings.

We are excited about the research our Network members are doing, and we are highlighting this in the Research Spotlight section of this newsletter. If you have original published research to highlight, please notify us at

One thing is clear – the need for education relevant to clinical practice on sexual health and function for women and girls with cancer is real. The Scientific Network is committed to being there to provide state-of-the-science guidance to you and your colleagues with regard to clinical practice in this arena.

Jeanne Carter, PhD
Chair, Scientific Network
Highlights from the 6th Network Conference
Thank you to Kelly Westbrook, MD, Conference Planning Chair, and to the rest of the Conference Planning Committee for organizing the conference in Durham in September.

Jeanne Carter, PhD, presenting the State of the Network address at the conference.

Read on to learn about some of the highlights of the meeting as well as what attendees are saying about their experience.
  • The first pre-conference CME program featured experts presenting on the state of patient-reported outcomes in relation to assessing sexual function for women with cancer, vulvar and urogenital pain, and the process of care for hypoactive sexual desire disorder.
    • “This program was extremely useful for thinking about how to address sexual health concerns in female cancer patients in a uniform and evidence-based way.”
    • “Because of this, we are able to start a sexual health clinic within our practice.”
    • “Addressing female sexual health concerns in telephone triage has always been difficult, but now I have a better understanding and will be able to communicate and assist the patient more thoroughly. I also plan to share my knowledge with the triage team.”
  • Special networking breaks.
    • “It was the best conference I have attended in a long time. The small size and opportunity to network was very valuable.”
  • An inspiring viewing of the movie Grace and discussion with Grace Lombardo, a breast cancer survivor who shared her story of reclaiming her body and self-image through an innovative and beautiful breast/body tattoo.
    • “LOVED the patient advocate.”
    • “Grace was wonderful and the discussion that followed the screening of the film was a perfect way to summarize the day.”
This year’s Trainee Award was presented to Emily Jacobs, who talked about educating cancer care providers about sexual health. Read the abstract and more about this year’s recipient of the Trainee Award below.

Emily Jacobs, MD
Educating Cancer Care Providers to Increase and Improve Sexual Health Care
Sexual problems related to cancer and cancer treatments are common and can decrease quality of life. Interventions to improve sexual outcomes may be more effective if begun early during cancer treatment. Although national guidelines for sexual health care in oncology exist, implementation has lagged behind. People impacted by cancer may not know sexual problems are legitimate medical issues for which anticipatory guidance, evaluation, treatment, and support are available.

The purpose of the All of Me project is to improve the sexual health of Iowans impacted by cancer. Having introduced this project at the 5th Scientific Network Conference, we now present mid-project findings.

The target population for this project is advanced practice professionals including oncology nurses, ARNPs, PAs, social workers, physical therapists and mental health therapists. All of Me was initially publicized via focus groups, a public awareness video, and two conferences. It continues to be publicized via workshops and the project website. Workshops adapt the Calgary Cambridge model of medical communication to the teaching of sexual health communication skills in oncology. Skills related to breaking bad news and working with patients from minority groups are taught with the help of simulated patient actors. Conference and workshop evaluations as well as pre/post-workshop confidence surveys were collected. A project workgroup developed a five-page sexual health care implementation framework that was assessed by conference participants. Constructive commentary was gathered as validity evidence.

For the workshops to date, the pre/post surveys showed a majority of participants gained confidence with assessing and counseling patients about sexual health and cancer. Qualitative data is expected to show lack of training and experience are the main deficiencies that limit participant confidence and, therefore, action. Evaluations showed half of the participants felt “mostly” confident while the remainder felt “completely” confident in addressing major themes by the conclusion of the workshop.

Training in communication skills along with a community of support can improve provider confidence in the provision of sexual health care to patients impacted by cancer. Educating providers has the potential to positively impact sexual health outcomes for people impacted by cancer.
Emily is originally from Tomball, Texas, a suburb north of Houston. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Texas Tech University. From there, she received a Master of Science degree in molecular pathology from Texas Tech University Health Science Center where she conducted research investigating genetic susceptibility to Chlamydia trachomatis infection. She earned her Medical Degree from The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio and moved north for her residency. She is currently a second-year obstetrics and gynecology resident at The University of Iowa. She plans to pursue a fellowship in reproductive endocrinology and infertility upon graduation. When not working, Emily enjoys spending time with her husband and 16-month-old son, reading, and traveling.

If you weren’t able to attend the conference, you can still view the program online:

Pre-conference CME Program Conference Program
Member Spotlight

Jessica R. Gorman, PhD, MPH
Jessica R. Gorman, PhD, MPH is Assistant Professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State University and an affiliate member of OHSU Knight Cancer Institute.

Her research program focuses on understanding the reproductive health concerns of cancer survivors and their partners, and testing strategies to reduce the negative effects of cancer on their health and well-being. Jessica’s research has contributed to building a case for an expanded characterization of the reproductive health consequences of cancer faced by adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer survivors, including, for example, challenges related to sexual health and alternative family building. She also studies patient-centered communication, with a recent review indicating a paucity of research-tested strategies to improve communication across topics that are important to AYA survivors, including sexual health and fertility. Jessica is currently conducting a dyadic mixed methods study with young adult female breast cancer survivors and their partners to gain knowledge about how couples communicate about their reproductive and sexual health concerns with each other and with their healthcare providers. Overall, she strives to conduct research that results in meaningful and accessible supportive care for young cancer survivors and their partners.

Learn more about Jessica’s work here:
Research Spotlight
A new study by Jennifer Barsky Reese, PhD, found that sexual health communication during routine clinical encounters between breast cancer patients and their oncology clinicians is uncommon and when it occurs, is largely initiated by clinicians. This study, published in Patient Education and Counseling, also shows that such communication was rare even for women who reported having sexual concerns on a standard screener.
Read More
A study that involves collaboration among several Network members – Kathryn Flynn, PhD; Kevin Weinfurt, PhD Jessica Gorman, PhD, MPH; and Lena Wettergren, PhD – showed that sexual dysfunction was found in the majority of women two years after breast cancer diagnosis in a Swedish national registry, and that reproductive concerns were also highly common. Further, the study, published in Psycho-Oncology, highlighted several important predictors of sexual dysfunction or low sexual satisfaction including endocrine treatment and negative body image, respectively. Predictors of reproductive concerns, including a wish for children and having had chemotherapy, were also found.
Read More
Mark your Calendar!

Please join us in Columbus, OH for the 7th Conference of the Scientific Network on Female Sexual Health and Cancer, which will be held November 14-15, 2019! Top Three reasons to visit Columbus, Ohio:
  1. Columbus, OH is the 14th-most populous city in the United States and one of the fastest growing large cities in the nation. The capital city’s incredible culinary scene features top-ranked chefs, a rich farm-to-table movement, one-of-a-kind restaurants and creative artisan desserts, beers, wines and spirits. Neighborhoods on all sides of downtown are bursting with new places to eat and shop, and artists are shaping new areas of the city into dynamic spaces to explore.
  2. The Ohio State University, home of the Ohio State Buckeye football phenomenon, is one of the largest universities in the country. It is also the home of The James Cancer Hospital, an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of the OSU Wexner Medical Center. Find out more at
  3. Because Columbus, OH will be the host city for the 7th Conference of the Scientific Network, which will be held November 14-15, 2019!
Meeting Calendar
Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM)
40th Annual Meeting & Scientific Sessions
Washington, DC
March 6-9, 2019

International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
2019 Annual Meeting
March 7-10, 2019
Atlanta, GA

Society of Gynecologic Oncology (SGO)
2019 Annual Meeting
Honolulu, HI
March 16-19, 2019

Society of Surgical Oncology (SSO)
Annual Cancer Symposium
San Diego, CA
March 27-30, 2019

Oncology Nursing Society (ONS)
44th Annual Congress
Anaheim, CA
April 11-14, 2019

American Society of Breast Surgeons
20th Annual Meeting
Dallas, TX
April 30 – May 5, 2019

American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)
2019 ASCO Annual Meeting
Chicago, IL
May 31 – June 4, 2019

American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT)
2019 Annual Conference
Philadelphia, PA
June 13-16, 2019

Get Involved!
We want to continue to grow the Network and we need your help to do it! The Scientific Network has formalized its structure and has opportunities for members to get involved with its newly formed committees, as well as writing groups.

Sharon Bober, PhD, Social Media Committee Chair; Shari Goldfarb, MD, Chair-Elect; Jennifer B. Reese, PhD, Newsletter Committee Chair; Diana Jeffery, PhD, Writing Groups; and Mary Lynn, DO, Membership Committee Chair
  • Membership Committee. Chaired by Mary Lynn, the Membership Committee works to increase membership through the development and implementation of a recruitment plan and associated promotions/activities; development and implementation of a retention plan to retain current members; and regular review and evaluation of member benefits.
  • Newsletter Committee Chaired by Jenny Reese, the Newsletter Committee is responsible for defining topics and producing the Network Newsletter (the Executive Office handles the formatting and electronic distribution).
  • Social Media Committee. Chaired by Sharon Bober, the Social Media Committee is responsible for building and maintaining a social media presence for the Network, including regularly providing posts/content relevant to the field.
  • Website Committee. Chaired by Kathryn Flynn, the Website Committee regularly reviews the website to ensure all content is current; reviews and approves requests to add content to the website; and provides suggestions for enhancements to the website.
  • Writing Groups. Writing groups are formed by interested members to focus on a major research topic that needs further clarification in regard to women and cancer.
If you are interested in participating in any of the above, please submit a statement of interest and CV to the Network Executive Office at
Welcome New Members!
  • Helen L. Coons, PhD
    Boulder, CO (Women’s Mental Health Associates Corp
  • Patricia Davis, RN, BSN, BMTCN
    Durham, NC (Duke Adult Bone Marrow Transplant)
  • Sarah Duffy, MPT
    Madison, WI (University of Wisconsin Health)
  • Megan Kassick, MD, MPH
    New Haven, CT (Yale School of Medicine/Smilow Cancer Hospital)
  • Melinda Lawrence
    Ypsilanti, MI (Eastern Michigan University School of Health Promotion)
  • Nora Lersch, MSN, RN, FNP-BC, AOCNP
    Pittsburgh, PA (UPMC)
  • Susanne Pettigrew, PA-C, NCMP
    Grand Rapids, MI (Spectrum Health)
  • Cristina Pozo-Kaderman, PhD
    Miami, FL (University of Miami, Sylvester Cancer Center)
  • Janelle Sobecki-Rausch, MD
    Madison, WI (University of Wisconsin – Madison)
  • Jacqueline Thielen, MD
    Rochester, MN (Mayo Clinic)