Leveling the Playing Field for LGBT Patients

The National LGBT Cancer Network is making cancer screenings more available to a high-risk, underserved population.
 
BY BETH FAND INCOLLINGO @fandincollingo
PUBLISHED: NOVEMBER 30, 2016
Imagine that you find a lump under your skin, or that you’re having trouble breathing, or are in pain. You’re afraid you might have a serious health problem — possibly cancer — but you’re also reluctant to go to the doctor. 

Why might you postpone or avoid contact with the health care system? Maybe you can’t afford health insurance or a have a history of negative experiences with hospitals and doctors.

So you keep putting off that doctor’s appointment, and, potentially, you keep getting sicker.

That’s the experience of many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, who, according to studies, face a greater risk of getting cancer due to risk factors like tobacco and alcohol use, yet are less likely to seek and benefit from health care. Ultimately, this could mean that cancer is picked up at a later stage, when it is more difficult to treat.

The National LGBT Cancer Network aims to change that dangerous dynamic with its Take Care of That Body campaign.

The online campaign aims to educate members of the LGBT community about their potentially increased cancer risk due to health care barriers and behaviors that can result from stigma and discrimination — such as smoking and eating high-fat foods — and then encourage timely cancer screenings at LGBT-welcoming facilities.

“The LGBT community is disproportionately affected by cancer, and few people in the community know that, so this is an education program,” says Liz Margolies, L.C.S.W, executive director of the National LGBT Cancer Network. “Part of what keeps people from getting screened is that they don’t know they’re at higher risk, or they can’t find, or believe they can find, a facility they can trust. So we’re providing them with both.”

The Cancer Network also offers LGBT support groups for those who have already been diagnosed with cancer.

How the Program Works

Launched in 2010 and partially funded by the New York State Department of Health, where the Network is based, the Take Care of That Body program has three arms, all accessible online at cancer-network.org/screening.php. These allow visitors to create a personalized cancer risk report; find LGBT-friendly screening facilities through a searchable, state-by-state directory; and sign up for text or email reminders about when they should next be screened.

“We know that many people use the program, but they don’t all use all three pieces,” Margolies says. “Some skip the risk assessment and come to the website just to find culturally competent cancer screening facilities. We can see that people are using the directory, and it’s OK if they don’t do all the steps. We are here to offer information.”



Talk about this article with other patients, caregivers, and advocates in the Breast Cancer CURE discussion group.
x-button
Special Feature
Share Your Art
Related Articles
The Logistics of Multigene Panel Testing in Breast Cancer
Generally, health insurance covers the cost of genetic testing recommended by a physician. However, some patients who had BRCA testing in the past have had trouble getting reimbursed for a follow-up panel test. The outof- pocket cost for a single panel test can be up to $5,000, although lower-cost tests are available.
Young Patients With Cancer Don't Always Get the Info They Need
When treated for cancer, young patients don’t always get the information they need from doctors.
Immunotherapy Offers New Optimism for Patients With Merkel Cell Carcinoma
Although chemotherapy has been used to treat patients with Merkel cell carcinoma, immunotherapy agents show great promise, according to findings presented at the 2017 World Congress of Melanoma.
Related Videos
Preserving Eyebrows During Chemotherapy Treatment
Renata Marie Vestevich, founder and developer of Essential Eyebrow Solution (EES), discusses how this topical solution may be able to help patients keep their eyebrow hair while undergoing chemotherapy.
Does Age Affect Cancer Genomics?
Garrett Frampton, associate director of Cancer Genomics at Foundation Medicine, discusses recent research about genetic mutations that are more common in certain age groups.  
Facing Advanced Cancer's Struggles With CALM
Gary Rodin, M.D., head of the Department of Supportive Care at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, in Toronto, Canada, discusses CALM, an intervention designed to help patients with advanced-stage cancer cope and talk about their concerns.
x
//For side ad protocol