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The Scientific Network on Female Sexual Health and Cancer
Dear Friends,

Fall greetings! As the new academic year has kicked off and we are moving towards 2022, I am delighted to send a warm hello! Although I know that we are all counting the time until our next opportunity to gather in-person, the Scientific Network has been continuing to find ways for members to stay connected virtually. Our most recent webinar, Radiation Therapy & Sexual Function, took place on November 17th, and provided a wonderful opportunity to learn from both Dr. Deborah Marshall and Dr. Allison Quick, two of the most innovative experts in this area. We also had the opportunity to hear from experts Dr. Shari Damast and Dr. Anuja Jhigran, the webinar’s moderators. Those who were not able to take part during the live stream can soon find the session posted in the Members Only section of the Scientific Network’s website. Please check it out!

If you were able to attend this webinar, I hope that you were also able to join the Annual Meeting of Members immediately following. As we look ahead, we are planning for more networking opportunities and cutting-edge programming in the field of female sexual health and cancer. We will be offering more excellent webinars during this academic year and are hoping to provide some in-person opportunities to see each other in Spring of 2022 as well! We will keep you posted as these plans unfold.

Sending my warm wishes that 2022 is a year of promise, good health and hope for you and your families.

Looking forward to being together again!

Sharon Bober
Election of Network Board Members
Congratulations to the following members who were elected to serve on the Scientific Network Board of Directors for the January 1, 2022 – December 31, 2023 term:

Shari Damast, MD
Yale University School of Medicine

Marloe Esch, BSN, RN, OCN
Froedert and The Medical College of Wisconsin

Natasha Frederick, MD, MPH
Connecticut Children's Medical Center

Susanne Pettigrew, PA-C, NCMP
True Women's Health
Member Recognition
See what Network members are accomplishing in their clinical practices!

Nora M. Lersch, DNP, FNP-BC, AOCNP, is a Nurse Practitioner with the Division of Gynecological Oncology and Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Endocrinology at the Magee Women's Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA. Dr. Lersch recently implemented a Women's Inclusive Sexual Health (WISH) Clinic, providing comprehensive sexual health care for women, including access to referrals for PT, sexual therapy, and pain management. Dr. Lersch is also pursuing her Certificate in Sexuality Counseling through the University of Michigan Sexual Health Certificate Program. Dr. Lersch can be reached at

Jessica Pettigrew, MSN, CNM, is Co-Director of the Women's Sexual Health Consultation Service, a unique service line that developed from a partnership between the departments of OBGYN and Psychiatry - Women’s Behavioral Health division at the University of Colorado. Women with sexual health concerns see a Clinical Health Psychologist and Certified Nurse Midwife (with expertise in sexual function) at their initial visit as a shared visit. History is taken together with both clinicians present during this part of the assessment. This allows for novel implementation of a biopsychosocial model for women across the lifespan. Clinicians find that what emerges is a much clearer picture of the individual patient and her circumstances thus allowing more holistic care. Connect with Jessica at
Kathryn Flynn, Jeanne Carter, Shari Goldfarb, Kevin Weinfurt, and colleagues recently published their article, Correspondence Between Clinician Ratings of Vulvovaginal Health and Patient-Reported Sexual Function After Cancer, in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.
Jennifer Reese, Lauren Zimmaro, Sharon Bober, and colleagues recently published their article, Mobile Technology-Based (mLearning) Intervention to Enhance Breast Cancer Clinicians’ Communication About Sexual Health: A Pilot Trial, in the Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.
Marloe Esch recently published Sexual health: A nursing approach to supporting the needs of young adult cancer survivors, in the Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing.
Sharon Bober and her colleague, Lydia Chevalier, recently published Culture and Sexual Medicine: A Road Map for Clinical Inquiry and Practice, in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.
We want to hear from you regarding your new and exciting endeavors in clinical practice, research, and scholarship! This is your chance to be recognized for your contributions, and to increase your visibility and connections with fellow professionals passionate about the same work. Send us a sentence or two about your accomplishment(s), along with your role/title, organization, location, and contact info, and headshot (if desired). Shout-outs will be included in upcoming newsletters!
Recife, Brazil
My name is Nathalia Ramalho. I am a board-certified gynecologist with a specialization in clinical sexology in Recife, a city in the northeast of Brazil. I work at the Instituto de Medicina Integral Professor Fernando Figueira (IMIP), a philanthropic entity dedicated to serving the poor population of Pernambuco, and at the Núcleo Especializado em Oncologia e Hematologia (NEOH), promoting care in gynecology and sexuality for cancer survivors.

In Brazil, the most frequent neoplasms in women (excluding non-melanoma skin) are breast, colorectal, and uterine cervix. In the northeast, a poor region of Brazil, cervical cancer is the second most frequent, often diagnosed in advanced stages, with treatment leading to high morbidity and high rates of sexual dysfunction.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on health care in Brazil, which already has a high rate of late diagnosis of cancer. The performance of screening tests such as pap smears and mammography showed reductions of around 50%. It is estimated that the diagnosis of new cancer cases fell by up to 50% by 2020. At IMIP, in the year 2020, after the WHO decreed the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a 24% decrease in new cancer cases diagnosis was observed when compared to the levels of the same period in the previous year.

In November 2021, our gynecology and sexuality care program for cancer patients completes 5 years. During this period, 1393 consultations were carried out and 548 women attended. Our main challenges are the management of vasomotor symptoms, hypoactive sexual desire, urogenital syndrome of menopause, and the prevention and management of vaginal stenosis secondary to pelvic radiation therapy.

Joining The Scientific Network on Female Sexual Health and Cancer brought more tools to help these women have a better quality of life during and after cancer treatment.

Thanks, and warm hugs from Brazil.
Dra. Nathalia Ramalho

Dra. Nathalia Ramalho

The orange-roofed building in the foreground is the hospital where Dra. Ramalho works

Deborah C. Marshall, MD

If you had the opportunity to join the Scientific Network for our recent webinar on Radiation Therapy & Sexual Function, you were able to learn from Dr. Deborah C. Marshall first-hand, as she was one of the expert speakers for the program!

Dr. Marshall and her colleagues recently published findings from a study aimed to explore the feasibility of bulboclitoris-sparing radiotherapy (BCS-IMRT), in comparison to standard radiotherapy (S-IMRT), in a sample of 20 patients receiving concurrent chemoradiotherapy treatments for anal cancer. The intervention (BCS-IMRT) consisted of utilizing contouring guidance for radiotherapy planning to avoid the bulboclitoris structure during RT treatment. Results were promising, showing reduced radiation doses (by almost half) to the bulboclitoris structure for the BCS-IMRT group, in comparison to the S-IMRT group. The authors conclude that because the bulboclitoris structure is the primary organ involved in female sexual arousal and orgasm, reducing the RT dose to this organ through BCS-IMRT may reduce sexual toxicities in this population. Further study of the safety and efficacy of this method are needed.
View Publication

Christina Wilson, PhD, RN, WHNP-BC

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
My name is Christina Wilson, and I am an oncology nurse and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner. I practiced as an oncology nurse and found my passion for gynecologic oncology and pursued a WHNP to provide better care. It was through my NP practicum that I discovered the issues that patients with gynecologic cancer face in regard to body image and sexual health and that led me to pursue a PhD!

What is the focus of your research and/or clinical practice?
I just started at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in July! I am a new Assistant Professor with a research focus on improving body image and sexual health in patients with gynecologic cancer. I also will be practicing at the cancer center providing sexual health care to cancer patients.

How long have you been a member of the Network?
I’ve been a member for about 2 years. I joined during my postdoctoral fellowship.

What do you find meaningful and/or how have you benefited from Network membership?
I’ve found a variety of things useful! I enjoy the webinars, and annual meetings (although I am ready to try one in person – since I haven’t had the opportunity to yet), as well as the resources in the newsletter.

What is an interesting fact about you, or what is your favorite hobby?
It isn’t necessarily an interesting fact, but I’d have to say my favorite hobby is crafting. I love making things that can be used – wreaths, flower arrangements, and gifts (I’m learning how to use my Cricut®).
Take advantage of your membership benefits! Membership in the Scientific Network on Female Sexual Health and Cancer includes access to Annual Conference and Webinar content. Simply log in to the Network website (, and from there you can access Annual Conference presentations and posters and recordings from our previous webinars.
Emily Friedman, NP-C, Chicago, IL (University of Chicago Medicine)
Vanessa Kennedy, MD, Sacramento, CA (University of California Davis Medical Center)
ISSWSH Annual Meeting 2022
March 3-6, 2022
Dallas, TX

2022 Genitourinary Cancers Symposium
February 17-19, 2022
San Francisco, CA + Online

SSO 2022 International Conference on Surgical Cancer Care
March 9-12, 2022
Dallas, TX

National Consortium of Breast Centers (NCoBC) 31st Annual Interdisciplinary Breast Center Conference
March 11-16, 2022
Paris Las Vegas, NV

SGO Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer
March 18-21, 2022
Phoenix, AZ

The Scientific Network Newsletter is brought to you by the Newsletter Committee:
Marloe Esch, BSN, RN, OCN - Chair
Liz Arthur, PhD, APRN-CNP, AOCNP
Pebble Kranz, MD, FECSM
Nathalia Ramalho, MD
Christina Wilson, PhD, WHNP-BC
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