Breast Cancer and Sexuality Treatment (BREAST Study)

Official title: Mindfulness-based treatment for sexual difficulties following breast cancer

The BREAST Study aims to support breast cancer survivors with the changes that breast cancer treatment can bring to their sexual lives. Chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, and hormone blocking therapies disrupt sexual function. This can impact how breast cancer survivors feel about themselves and in their intimate relationships. Over half of breast cancer survivors experience ongoing difficulties with sexual desire, sexual arousal, sexual distress and/or genital pain following breast cancer treatment. Unfortunately, treatment options are limited or difficult to access.

The BREAST study is a randomised clinical trial which will compare two effective treatments – a mindfulness-based treatment and sexuality education – in addressing difficulties with sexual desire, sexual arousal, sexual distress and/or genital pain. Mindfulness-based treatments use an acceptance-based approach to encourage present-focused and non-judgmental attention. Sexuality education focuses on sharing accurate information about aspects which facilitate sexual health and inhibit sexual distress or pain in the context of breast cancer.

Who can participate?

  • You are a woman or a non-binary individual and have a vagina
  • You are 19 years of age or older
  • You live in British Columbia. Formal immigration status (i.e. PR or citizenship) is not needed.
  • You are fluent in English
  • You have a history of breast cancer, and at least 3 months have passed since the end of active cancer treatment (e.g. chemotherapy or radiation).
  • Eligibility is open to women of all stages of breast cancer including those with metastatic breast cancer who do not anticipate any change in their cancer therapy for the duration of the study (8 months) at the time of enrolment. As the treatment program involves daily homework and exercises, we recommend that women wait until their treatment schedules have stabilized.
  • You experience difficulties with one or more of the following: sexual desire, sexual arousal, sexual distress, fear and/or anxiety about sex and/or genital pain.
  • You have a willingness to engage in sexual activity (alone or with a sexual partner) for the duration of the study.

What is Involved?

  • An initial screening and clinical evaluation will take place over the telephone.
  • Participants will be randomly assigned to either a mindfulness-based treatment group or a sexuality education treatment group.
  • Groups will meet virtually on a secure web-based video platform, for a weekly 2-hour session over 8 weeks (i.e. 8 sessions in total).
  • Participants will be asked to do exercises at home.
  • Completing an online questionnaire at 3 time points:
    • T1: Pre-treatment assessment, 1-2 weeks before the first group session
    • T2: Post-treatment assessment, 1-2 weeks after the final group session, and
    • T3: Follow-up assessment, at 6 months after the final group session.
  • Sessions are offered free of charge and an honorarium of $20 will be provided for each assessment completed ($60 total).
  • Participants are under no obligation to share any information they do not want to as part of the treatment.

When does this study take place?

Recruitment began in January 2020 and is now complete as of December 2021.

Where does this study take place?

Group treatment sessions will take place virtually on a secure web-based video platform.

What will happen after this study?                   

Findings from this study can inform treatments to improve the sexual health and quality of life of breast cancer survivors. We will be consulting with patient groups amongst other organisations to best share and apply these findings.

This study is a collaboration between the UBC Sexual Health Research, University of Calgary Department of Oncology, BC Cancer Agency and the Tom Baker Cancer Centre with funding from the Innovation Grant at the Canadian Cancer Society.

The Principal Investigator is Dr. Lori Brotto, Professor, UBC Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology. @DrLoriBrotto.


Please use this form to send us your contact details and the study coordinator, Shannon Woo, will connect with you:

BREAST Study Contact Form

Or please contact the relevant Study Coordinator by email:

For British Columbia:

For Alberta: