Vulvovaginal atrophy (VVA) in breast cancer survivors (BCS) is still an unmet medical need: results of an Italian Delphi Panel

Nicoletta Biglia, Lino Del Pup, Riccardo Masetti, Paola Villa, Rossella E. Nappi

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting Abstract

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Abstract: Purpose: VVA is a common disease, with approximately 50% of all postmenopausal women having related symptoms. VVA has a significant impact on the personal and sexual lives and on many aspects of women’s self-esteem and emotional well-being. It is particularly frequent and severe in patients treated for BC, where it originates significant economic and social costs. Given the lack of published evidence on this subject, a Delphi Panel was carried out to evaluate:The epidemiology of VVA and of its risk-factors/comorbidities in ItalyThe present standard of care and unmet medical needsThe comparison between recent US epidemiological data and the Italian situationThe health resources used in VVA BC The burden of illnessDespite the considerable negative impact on quality of life, a disparity between the high prevalence of this condition and the infrequent clinical diagnosis is documented in medical practice and in surveys. This inaccuracy is thought to be primarily a consequence of patients’ unwillingness and/or reluctance to report symptoms in the clinical setting and of health-care professional’s difficulty in approaching this sensitive topic during routine consultations. Methods: A Delphi Panel methodology was used: a first round of written questionnaires, followed by a plenary meeting with a facilitator and by two additional rounds of telephone interviews. Results: The prevalence of the condition in Italy can be estimated in 115,000 cases out of 380,000 BC survivors. The Panel confirmed that the epidemiological findings of a recent pharmacoeconomic analysis of a US claims database can be applied to Italian patient population. The Panel confirmed also an estimate of 4.25 additional cases/100/yr of UTI (urinary tract infection) in VVA BC patients (vs. a non-VVA-matched population), of 3.68 additional cases of vulvovaginitis, of 6.97 cases of climacteric symptoms, and of 3.64 cases of bone and joint disorders. As far as the resource use is concerned, in the VVA BC populations, 33.4 additional gynecological visits/100/year can be expected, along with 22.8 additional cancer screenings, 7.07 additional outpatient visits and 5.04 screenings for HPV. Conclusions: Even in Italy, a diagnosis of VVA, especially in a BC population, is associated with a relevant increase in the burden of illness and social costs, compared to a control population matched for age without VVA. This is due essentially to an increase in comorbidities and resource utilization with the consequence that an adequate treatment could reduce the impact of the condition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2507-2512
Number of pages6
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Breast Cancer
  • Burden of illness
  • Comorbidity
  • Delphi Panel
  • Ospemifene
  • Vulvovaginal atrophy


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