Healthcare providers


Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (trans) and queer (LGBTQ) people live in every community in Ontario. And LGBTQ people need cancer screening services in every community in Ontario.

Studies show, however, that LGBTQ populations have lower screening rates for colon, breast and cervical cancer than the general population, mainly due to barriers related to sexual orientation and/or gender identity or expression.

Healthcare providers can do a great deal to eliminate these barriers by creating a welcoming, culturally competent, sensitive and educated environment for LGBTQ clients and their families. This requires:

  1. Understanding cancer screening information and considerations for LGBTQ clients
  2. Staff training and education
  3. Creating a welcoming physical and administrative environment for LGBTQ clients and their families

Learn these skills by taking our Mainpro-M2 accredited training on LGBTQ cancer screening for LGBTQ communities.

As a healthcare provider in Ontario, you already have LGBTQ clients, whether or not they have disclosed this information to you. One of the single most important things you can do to maximize the quality of their health is to create an openly supportive environment where your LGBTQ clients can come out safely and receive care and screening that meets their individual and community needs. Making even small changes in your practice, office, policies and staff training can have a significant and positive impact.

This section of the website provides information and suggestions for improving access to healthcare and cancer screening for LGBTQ clients and, by extension, for everyone in Ontario.

Screening saves lives!

On this website, we use the term “LGBTQ,” while acknowledging that people use many words to describe sexual orientation and gender identity, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, intersex, queer, questioning, two-spirited, or third-gender, among others. These terms, as well as thinking and attitudes towards sexual orientation and gender identity, change continuously, within society as a whole and within LGBTQ communities. These definitions are not standardized and may be used differently by different people in different regions, countries and cultures. As a healthcare practitioner, tune into and use the words your clients use to describe themselves or their behaviours. The screening information in this section has been compiled by the Canadian Cancer Society’s Policy and Research team using available research literature. We would like to acknowledge and thank our expert content advisors: Dr. Ed Kucharski, Staff Physician; Dr. Amy Bourns, Staff Physician; and Emery Potter, RN, at the Sherbourne Health Centre, Toronto, Ontario.


Allen, K. Lesbian Health Issues Paper.  Queensland Association for Healthy Communities, Inc. October 2009.


Boehmer U, Miao X, Ozonoff A. Cancer survivorship and sexual orientation. Cancer. 2011;117(16):3796–804.


Feldman J, Goldberg J. (2006). Transgender Primary Care: Suggested guidelines for clinicians in British Columbia. Vancouver Coastal Health, Transcend Transgender Support and Education Society, Canadian Rainbow Health Coalition.


Gay and Lesbian Medical Association and LGBT health experts. Healthy People 2010 Companion Document for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Health. San Francisco, CA: Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, 2001.


Heslin KC, Gore JL, King WD, Fox SA: Sexual Orientation and Testing for Prostate and Colorectal Cancers Among Men in California. Med Care 2008, 46:1240-1248.


Lawrence A. (2001) Vaginal neoplasia in a male-to-female transsexual: case report, review of the literature and recommendations for cytological screening. International Journal of Transgenderism.


Mulé, NJ, Ross, LE, Deeprose, B, Jackson, BE, Daley, A, Travers, A & Moore, D. (2009). Promoting LGBT health and wellbeing through inclusive policy development. International Journal for Equity in Health, 8(1),18-28.


Roberts, SJ, Patsdaughter, CA, Grindel, CG, and Tarmina, MS Health Related Behaviours and Cancer Screening of Lesbians:  Results of the Boston Lesbian Health Project II.  Women and Health, 39(4) 2004.


Poole B. Is Canadian women’s breast cancer screening behaviour associated with having a family doctor? Canadian Family Physician. April 2010 vol. 56 no. 4 e150-e157.


Steiner E, et al. (2002). Carcinoma of the neovagina: case report and review of the literature. Gynecologic Oncology, 84: 171.


Stokes-Lampard H et al. (2006) Vaginal vault smears after hysterectomy for reasons other than malignancy: a systematic review of the literature. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 113(12):1354.


Tjepkema, Michael. Health care use among gay, lesbian and bisexual Canadians. Component of Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 82-003-X Health Reports, March 19, 2008.