Lesbians and cancer: an overlooked health disparity
- 1.3k Downloads
To evaluate the breast, cervical, ovarian, lung, and colorectal cancer literatures using a novel application of the cancer disparities grid to identify disparities along domains of the cancer continuum focusing on lesbians as a minority population.
Computerized databases were searched for articles published from 1981 to present. Cumulative search results identified 51 articles related to lesbians and disparities, which were classified by domain.
The majority of articles identified were related to breast and cervical cancer screening. Barriers to adequate screening for both cancers include personal factors, poor patient-provider communication, and health care system factors. Tailored risk counseling has been successful in increasing lesbian’s mammography and Pap screening. Ovarian, lung, and colorectal cancer have been virtually unexplored in this population. An “Adjustment to Illness/Quality of Life” domain was added to capture literature on psychosocial aspects of cancer.
This review revealed a lack of research for specific cancers and for specific aspects of the cancer continuum. The limited number of studies identified focused on issues related to screening/prevention in cervical and breast cancers, with almost no attention to incidence, etiology, diagnosis, treatment, survival, morbidity, or mortality. We present implications for social and public health policy, research, and prevention.
KeywordsLesbians Cancer disparities Health disparities Review article
Supported in part by grant# K12 HD43489 (NICHD and ORWH).
- 2.American Cancer Society (2008) Cancer facts and figures 2008. American Cancer Society, AtlantaGoogle Scholar
- 6.Diamant AL, Wold C (2003) Sexual orientation and variation in physical and mental health status among women. J Womens Health (Larchmt) 12(1):41–49Google Scholar
- 18.American Cancer Society (2006) Cancer in our lives: raising awareness in the LGBTQI community. San Francisco, CAGoogle Scholar
- 19.Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (2001) Healthy people 2010 companion document for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) health. San Francisco, CAGoogle Scholar
- 30.Ries LAG, Melbert D, Krapcho M, Mariotto A, Miller BA, Feuer EJ, Clegg L, Horner MJ, Howlader N, Eisner MP, Reichman M, Edwards BK (eds) (2007) SEER cancer statistics review, 1975–2004. National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD. http://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2004/, based on November 2006 SEER data submission, posted to the SEER web site
- 33.Haynes S (1995) Breast cancer risk: comparisons of lesbians and heterosexual women. In: Bowen DJ (ed) Cancer and cancer risks among lesbians. Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Community Liaison Program, Seattle, WAGoogle Scholar
- 35.Powers D, Bowen DJ, White J (2001) The influence of sexual orientation on health behaviors in women. J Prev Interv Community 22(2):43–60Google Scholar
- 43.Fobair P, O’Hanlan K, Koopman C, Classen C, Dimiceli S, Drooker N, Warner D, Davids H, Loulan J, Wallsten D et al (2001) Comparison of lesbian and heterosexual women’s response to newly diagnosed breast cancer. Psychooncology 10(1):40–51. doi: 10.1002/1099-1611(200101/02)10:1≤40::AID-PON480≥3.0.CO;2-S PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 47.Schiffman M, Brinton L, Devasa S, Fraumeni J, Joseph F (1996) Cervical cancer. Cancer epidemiology and prevention. Oxford University Press, New York, pp 1090–1116Google Scholar
- 58.National Cancer Institute (2007) What you need to know about lung cancer. [Web Page] May 2007Google Scholar
- 63.IARC (2003) Fruits and vegetables. IARC handbook of cancer prevention. IARC Press, LyonGoogle Scholar