Cancer affects everyone, but prejudice and lack of understanding can mean members of the gay community don’t receive the preventative and curative care they need. Thankfully, the National LGBT Cancer Network has expanded its directory of LGBT-friendly cancer screening facilities to cover additional facilities in more than 40 states and the District of Columbia.Said Cancer Network director Liz Margolies:
“We have selected each facility for inclusion based on its commitment to offering safe, affordable, welcoming care to all LGBT people. Each has demonstrated proven cultural competence in respecting the bodies, histories, and families of LGBT patients. We will research additional facilities and expand the list until every LGBT person in the country is within driving range of a safe and welcoming facility where they will be respected.”
In addition to making gays and lesbians feel welcome, healthcare providers should be aware of certain unique risk factors and circumstances. For example:
* Gay men have rates of HPV, the virus that can lead to anal cancer, that are 40 times higher than the general population.
* Long-term HIV survivors are known to be at much greater risk for lung and renal cancer
* Lesbians tend to drink more, smoke more and are less likely to have a biological child before age 30, all risk factors for several kinds of cancer.
The directory is particularly essential to trans patients, who frequently face discrimination in medical services. (One out of five transgender patients has been turned away by a healthcare provider.) Even compassionate doctors may not be aware of relevant data or necessary tests. For example, estrogen therapy and breast implants may affect incidents of breast cancer in trans woman, while trans men may be hesitant to undergo mammograms or breast-cancer screenings in the first place.
Acknowledging that LGBT patients are disproportionately likely to be uninsured, the directory also includes information on facilities that do not require health insurance.