LGBTQIA+ patients often have a difficult time finding care providers that are knowledgeable about their sexualities or gender identities, or may face discrimination within healthcare settings because of their identities. This Pride Month, we’re sharing resources for patients in the LGBTQIA+ community to help them overcome these challenges and access the best possible cancer care.
Disparities in cancer care
A lack of gender-affirming care plays a role in the low screening rates among the LGBTQIA+ community. According to OUT, The National Cancer Survey published by the National LGBT Cancer Network, gender expansive patients are less likely to receive recommended cancer screenings due in part to the challenges they face in accessing LGBTQ+ friendly healthcare providers and services. According to the survey, only 66% of patients agreed that “all or most” of the healthcare staff they encountered provided culturally competent care. Similarly, the American Cancer Society cites fear of discrimination and prior negative experiences with healthcare providers as reasons LGBTQ+ patients may delay preventive care like mammogram screenings.
A study was recently published in JAMA Oncology that examined the cancer diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes disparities for LGBTQIA+ identifying patients. According to the study, LGBTQIA+ people waited nearly twice as long as cisgender patients (64 days and 34 days respectively) before receiving a breast cancer diagnosis, despite both groups showing symptoms. The same study also found that LGBTQIA+ patients had a higher risk of breast cancer recurrence than their cisgender, heterosexual counterparts, even when both groups received similar treatments.
Resources for patients in the LGBTQ+ community
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a list of LGBTQIA+ friendly health clinics by state, and referral and hotline services, so patients can find welcoming places to receive care.
The National LGBT Cancer Network works to improve the health outcomes of LGBTQIA+ patients while taking into account the unique challenges these patients face. This organization advocates for LGBTQIA+ inclusion in cancer research, helps train healthcare providers to offer inclusive care, educates the LGBTQIA+ community about cancer risk, and offers support groups for patients.
CancerCare also offers an inclusive space and resources to support all breast cancer patients, including those who identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community. This organization published a fact sheet on coping with cancer as an LBGTQ+ person to help patients navigate the healthcare system in a way that is comfortable for them but ensures they receive the care they need.
Outcomes4Me welcomes all breast cancer patients regardless of their identity, because we believe all patients deserve access to the best care and support. Our new patient Community offers a safe space for breast cancer patients and survivors to share their experiences, ask questions, and offer support to their peers. Click here to access Community now.