If you’re an LGBTQ (self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) colorectal cancer patient or survivor, Fight CRC’s resources are a great place to gain in-depth information about colon and rectal cancer treatments, symptom management, and survivorship care. Additionally, the following organizations offer great cancer resources specific to the LGBTQ community:
- National LGBT Cancer Project: This non-profit organization has a range of blog posts and resources for LGBT cancer patients and their loved ones.
- The Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, Cancer in Our Lives http://www.glma.org
- CancerCare’s LGBT Program http://www.cancercare.org/get_help/special_progs/lgbt.php
- Fight CRC Resources Line: Supported by the Cancer Support Community, Fight CRC’s resources line is staffed by social workers who can provide short term counseling and information about local resources and support groups.
At a Glance
While LGBTQ persons fall within general population screening guidelines for prevention and early detection of CRC, disparities in cancer diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship exist in the LGBT community. With more than an estimated 1 million LGBT cancer survivors in the U.S., it’s essential to understand why the disparities exist, and develop ways to address them.
Unfortunately, many cancer registries do not collect information on sexual orientation and gender identity, making it hard to know if screening guidelines are being met. This lack of data stunts research and policy development, awareness and interventions that could address cancer disparities.
When diagnosed with cancer, LGBTQ patients have reported more fear and stigma than other patients as a result of past negative experiences within the healthcare system and/or fear of discrimination from a provider. Medical teams who are competent in LGBTQ cancer care can better meet their patient’s needs.
Medical teams who are LGBTQ community competent and experienced are the best choices for any community member who is recently diagnosed with cancer. A cancer diagnosis is difficult for anyone but especially for an LGBTQ community member who does not feel they can be open about their medical history, life, and family history. It is so important to find the right medical professional that can not only treat you for cancer but also that will make you feel comfortable and relaxed about sharing personal and medical facts. Take the time to right the right medical professional for you – Michael Tomko, survivor
Data suggest that at the time of diagnosis, many people on the oncology team do not know about a patient’s gender identity and/or sexual orientation. Being aware of these things is important to reduce patient anxiety, to direct patients to resources that are culturally appropriate, to avoid misgendering, and to be considerate of the patients’ emotional support team, which is often composed of friends versus family members.
Sometimes, the best thing for LGBT people to do is find a culturally competent provider to replace their current physician if there is a sense of judgment and lack of trust. Cultural competency describes knowledge of attitudes, behaviors, norms and language used across cultures, in addition to awareness of policies that affect different cultural groups. Sexual orientation is part of a patient’s culture.
When providers and oncology teams invite patients to bring their whole self to appointments, this fosters trusting and positive relationships. The result could mean greater adherence to treatment plans and protocols, and overall satisfaction.
To get more in-depth information about Cultural Competency Trainings, Barriers to LGBT Healthcare, LGBT Survivorship issues and the LGBT Community’s Disproportionate Cancer Burden, visit the National LGBT Cancer Network. Their website also includes a database of LGBTQ-welcoming providers.
At Fight Colorectal Cancer, we believe that all forms of oppression based on gender identity are major barriers to public health. We fight for fair and equal access to treatment and survivorship care for all CRC patients and their loved ones and to ensure that every adult has access to timely preventive screening.
Taboo-ty Do Ask, Do Tell Podcast
In Fight CRC’s latest Taboo-ty Podcast, Paige, an LGBTQ patient navigator, and Diogo, a patient navigator for cancer screening, discuss the challenges and barriers that the LGBTQ community may face in terms of colorectal cancer screening, misgendering and general access to care. This podcast has great insight regarding the importance of respect, communication, cultural competence and of course, colorectal cancer screening.
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