Cancer screening information and considerations for LGBTQ clients
Like everybody else, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender
(trans) and queer (LGBTQ) people in Ontario need to be screened for colon,
breast and cervical cancer according to provincial
However LGBTQ clients also have specific concerns when it
comes to cancer screening. For example:
- They are less likely to have a primary
healthcare practitioner and more likely to delay seeking medical care or
screening because of actual or perceived discrimination.
- They may face barriers to screening related to
sexual orientation, gender identity and gender dysphoria.
For example, trans men may find intimate procedures like Pap tests and
mammograms particularly challenging. Lesbian women may have been told or may
believe that they do not need cervical screening.
- LGBTQ communities tend to be more vulnerable to
social stresses that lead to increased alcohol, tobacco and substance use,
which can increase cancer risk.
- LGBTQ clients — in particular trans clients — may
take gender-affirming hormones or have had gender-affirming surgeries and other
medical procedures that can affect screening guidelines, tests or results. For
example, testosterone use can cause cervical cell changes. More research and
evidence is needed about how gender-affirming hormones, surgeries and other
factors that affect cancer screening guidelines.
- Healthcare providers may not be aware of these
issues, or may not have access to research and guidelines — where they exist —
for addressing them effectively.