Health

Navigating LGBTQ+ Cancer Care: Best Organizations for Support

Navigating the healthcare system as a sexual or gender minority can be challenging under the best of circumstances, never mind when faced with a potentially life-changing diagnosis like cancer. That’s why it’s important to find advocates who can help you understand the types of cancers that affect the LGBTQ+ community, as well as help you assess your personal risk factors, get the screening tests you need, find the right cancer doctors, and hold your hand through treatment if you need it. Here’s a list of some of the best organizations out there.

National LGBT Cancer Network

This multifaceted organization tries to cover all the bases for the community. “We see our approach as three-pronged,” says deputy director Chelbye McIntyre, explaining that their priorities are (1) educating LGBTQ+ people about their unique cancer risks and how to access critical screening, (2) training providers to be sensitive to the needs of this population, and (3) advocating for LGBTQ+ cancer survivors in all spaces. The network offers peer support groups and sponsors research partnerships that allow LGBTQ+ people to find clinical trials or participate in scientific studies.

The network is also unique in that it hosts its own health initiatives. For example, it’s home to the Tobacco-Related Cancer Project, which is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the network, 1 out of 6 people in the general population uses cigarettes, while 1 out of 5 in the LGBTQ+ population does. For transgender people, the number may be greater than 1 out of 3.

To reduce these numbers, the Tobacco-Related Cancer Project works with partners such as state and local health departments to spread the word to LGBTQ+ people about the dangers of smoking. It also makes sure this population is included in grant programs designed to help people stop smoking.

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