Journal of Cancer Survivorship

, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 92-101

First online:

Breast cancer survivorship: the role of perceived discrimination and sexual orientation

  • Jennifer M. JabsonAffiliated withDepartment of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health Email author 
  • , Rebecca J. DonatelleAffiliated withDepartment of Public Health, Oregon State University
  • , Deborah BowenAffiliated withDepartment of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health

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Breast cancer disproportionately affects sexual minority women (SMW) compared to heterosexual women and a small but growing literature indicates that SMW may have diminished survivorship outcomes; outcomes that are measurably and importantly different from heterosexual breast cancer survivors. However, it remains unknown how sexual orientation influences breast cancer survivorship outcomes such as quality of life. One possible route of influence is SMW’s perceived discrimination in the health care setting. This cross-sectional study examines SMW perceptions of discrimination as one of the multiple facets of the breast cancer survivorship process. This study assessed SMW breast cancer survivor’s perceptions of discrimination during their breast cancer treatment experience and secondarily, examined the role of this perceived discrimination on SMW’s quality of life. Sixty-eight purposefully sampled sexual minority breast cancer survivors completed assessments of quality of life, perceived discrimination, perceived social support and perceived stress via an online survey. Statistical analyses point to perceived discrimination and perceived social support as important indicators for predicting SMW’s quality of life. Future research on SMW’s breast cancer survivorship should include measures of perceived discrimination.


Breast cancer Survivorship Sexual orientation Perceived discrimination Social support Stress