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Coming Out with Cancer

Posted 1/18/2016

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  Today's blog is sparked by an excellent article from Cancer Today about the particular needs of  lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) patients. Very honestly, working where I do, in a university hospital in the liberal city of Boston, this is not something that often hits my radar screen. That may be an admission of ignorance or denial, but I have never in 35 years heard a disparaging or negative remark made about any patient's sexual preference or history.

 I can remember a few complicated situations of transgender patients where many staff were baffled re pronouns or different names on the medical record (older records were in the opposite sex's name). There have been a couple of difficult issues on the in-patient floors with uncertainty whether to put the patient into a double room with a man or a woman. That has generally been solved by a single room--and that is now much easier as our oncology floors are mostly singles.

  Since I am far from expert on this topic, I will move quickly to give you the article. Here is the start and a link to read more:

Coming Out About Cancer

Dealing with cancer, from diagnosis and treatments
to life as a survivor, is never easy. This is particularly
true for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT)
survivors who can’t be open about who they are because
they fear discrimination from their health care providers or
judgmental responses from support group members

An article in the September/October 2015
issue of CA: A Cancer Journal for
Clinicians explains that research suggests
the LGBT population may have higher
incidence and death rates for certain
cancers than heterosexual people. Studies
have found lesbians have high rates of
obesity, alcohol use and smoking, while
gay and bisexual men have high rates of
HIV, sexually transmitted diseases and
smoking—all known cancer risk factors. In
addition, transgender individuals may hesitate
to seek cancer screening for diseases
that do not match their gender identity.
Researchers believe that improving health
care services and access to insurance—in
particular, expanding coverage for transgender
individuals—as well as enhancing
access to LGBT-friendly health care providers
could help decrease risk factors and
increase cancer screening.


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