The Importance of Inclusivity in Cancer Care for the LGBTQIA+ Community

The Importance of Inclusivity in Cancer Care for the LGBTQIA+ Community

The standard of care that one expects when facing a crisis such as cancer is not always met for those in the LGBTQ+ community. A problem that not only creates shame / mental health issues, but can lead to death. A recent symposium hosted by Cedars-Sinai addressed this topic head-on, and the conclusion was simple: medical institutions need to learn how to provide culturally competent care. When physicians fully understand and utilize the fundamental LGBTQ+ terms, they are able to reduce harm and improve treatment outcomes. 

Patients who are transgendered or non-binary often receive suboptimal healthcare. This can happen for a number of reasons, including but not limited to not wanting to share how they identify due to a fear of stigma. It is reported that patients are often called by their wrong name, gender, and even if their physician refers to them with the correct pronouns and name, it is often wrong in their medical charts. This can result in barriers with willingness to seek care, medication adherence, and behavioral risks such as depression. Many oncologists still seem to be unaware of how this can negatively impact their patients and their cancer treatments.

This problem however goes beyond the physicians themselves, it can be seen with verbiage in literature, on testing, misrepresentation in clinical trials and in the facilities themselves with change rooms, treatment trial inclusion, and the general language used around certain cancers. One of the most alarming ways this can be seen is where test results are concerned; patients may find they are persistently flagged with alarming results because they’re being tested as the wrong gender. For physicians and patients not aware of this problem, it can be stressful and problematic. In addition to this, chemotherapy dosing can be based on gender, which can result in inappropriate dosing. 

However, there are steps to alleviate these problems, changing the way some lab results, and dosing are done; collecting data based on hormone levels rather than gender markers; laws prohibiting insurance based on sex/gender, and, most importantly, further awareness in the medical community.

At Port Moody Health, we offer person-centered care in a fully inclusive and safe clinic. This includes offering gender-affirming care inclusive of non-binary identities and respond to the unique needs of each person.

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