LGBT Health - Cancer

Cancer: disparities and resources

While existing data about the rates of cancer in the LGBT population are limited, researchers speculate that LGBT persons are at high risk for some cancers and cancer-related adverse health outcomes.

Lesbian and bisexual women may have multiple risk factors for breast, cervical, and other gynecological cancers but are less likely to receive regular medical check-ups and screenings than heterosexual women. For example, lesbian women have multiple risk factors for breast cancer, including higher rates of alcohol consumption and obesity and lower rates of giving birth before age 30, but they are four times less likely to have undergone mammography in the last two years.

Additionally, gay and bisexual men, particularly those who engage in receptive anal intercourse, have a high prevalence of human papillomavirus (HPV), which can result in anal cancer. While anal cancer is not common in the general population, data indicate the rate of anal cancer is 80 times higher in gay and bisexual men than in heterosexual men. Finally, co-occurrences with HIV/AIDS can substantially reduce gay and bisexual men's cancer survival rates.

The following resources are intended to address cancer concerns and disparities affecting the LGBT community.

Anal cancer
Description: Information symptoms and diagnosis of anal cancer among men who have sex with men, including an overview; published by 
Resource availability: Internet 

Cancer facts for gay and bisexual men
Description: Information on risk, prevention, and detection of lung, skin, prostate, colon, anal, and testicular cancers among gay and bisexual men; published by the American Cancer Society 
Resource availability: Internet

Cancer facts for lesbian and bisexual women
Description: Information on risk, prevention, and detection of lung, skin, colon, breast, and gynecological cancers among lesbian and bisexual women; published by the American Cancer Society 
Resource availability: Internet

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- Tips from Former Smokers
Description: Real stories of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) people who are suffering from smoking-related diseases and disabilities.
Resource availability: Internet

LGBT Patient-Centered Outcomes: cancer survivors teach us how to improve care for all. (PDF, 1.0 MB)
Description: A report summarizing responses of a survey of 311 LGBT cancer survivors as they describe what they would want healthcare providers to know about their experiences.
Resource availability: Internet

Mautner Project
Description: The Mautner Project is committed to improving the health of women who partner with women including lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals, through direct and support service, education advocacy.
Resource availability: Internet

National LGBT Cancer Network
Description: Information on population specific cancer risks, optional electronic screening reminder
Resource availability: Internet

National LGBT Cancer Project
Description: National nonprofit LGBT organization providing cancer survivor support and advocacy services.
Resource availability: Internet

Out With Cancer
Description: Cancer information and social network for LGBT persons diagnosed with cancer.
Resource availability: Internet 

Promoting Cervical Cancer Screening Among Lesbian and Bisexual Women (PDF, 327 KB)
Description: Policy paper from the Fenway Institute addressing the importance of cervical cancer screening for lesbian and bisexual women.
Resource availability: Internet

Last Revised: November 19, 2015