LGBTQ women face higher risks in post-cancer care
A health study has determined that LGBTQ women face a big problem not only in dealing with cancer but also getting post-cancer care treatment.
The study was conducted by Ulrike Boehmer, an an associate professor at the Boston University School of Public Health, who noted that cancer survivors in the LGBTQ community suffer problems in getting the right treatment.
Boehmer also pointed out how lack of data is proving to be deadly to the community– especially the women.
A cancer “epidemic” and post-cancer care
The study of more than 70,000 cancer survivors showed that for LGBTQ cancer survivors, they received less access to follow-up care for preventing and detecting recurrences as compared to their straight counterparts.
They also problems with screening for long-terms of cancer treatments, especially for LGBTQ women. This led to poorer mental and physical health post-cancer.
“There is a silent epidemic,” Boehmer said, an associate professor of community health sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health.
She further said that LGBTQ people, especially women, more likely had jobs that didn’t provide health insurance. They also couldn’t afford co-payments for follow-up visits.
This study likewise adds to further evidence that LGBTQ community faces discrimination and insensitivity in health care.
Lack of data on cancer and post-cancer care
Boehmer pointed out that there’s a lack of significant data about the experiences of LGBTQ cancer survivors with regard to medical care.
“We don’t even have data yet on the types of treatments they get or if they’re being treated according to guidelines or not,” she said.
“We need to chip away at this big black hole where we know very little about what’s going on,” she added. “There might be an epidemic going on that we’re not aware of.”
Unfortunately, LGBTQ people have substantial higher rates of obesity, smoking, and alcohol– which are all known risk factors for cancer– as compared to the national average.
What’s more, while women who’ve never had biological children have higher risk of breast cancer, lesbians and bisexual women are three times and two times respectively more likely to never have biological children.
Data used in latest study on cancer and post-cancer care
Boehmer, who has been studying this since the early 1990s, cited her personal experience on the matter: “A very good friend of mine, who is a lesbian, was diagnosed with breast cancer at a very young age.”
“The breast cancer movement included a lot of lesbian activists who brought attention to this particular issue,” she pointed out.
Boehmer used survey data from Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System collected between 2014 and 2017 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Of the 70,524 cancer survivors she identified, these included 1,931 LGB participants from 35 US states and Guam. This broke down to 782 LGBT men and 1,149 women.
Boehmer said of her outcomes analysis that “this data was collected at a time when we have seen the benefits of gaining healthcare access and protections,” in reference to the Affordable Care Act and marriage equality.