Yesterday marked World Cancer Day, a global day of action and awareness to reduce the burden of cancer worldwide. While we know that cancer affects millions around the globe, we don’t know enough about cancer in the LGBT community. Cancer registries and surveys of cancer incidence do not collect data about sexual orientation or gender identity, leaving LGBT cancer survivors invisible. What we do know is that a number of studies have found that LGBT people have a number of risk factors that put us at higher risk for cancer incidence and later diagnosis.
With this as the background, in 2014 a group of experts convened to hold the first ever summit on cancer in the LGBT communities, which led to the recently released National LGBT Cancer Action Plan: A White Paper of the 2014 National Summit on Cancer in LGBT Communities.
"Before the first National Summit on Cancer in the LGBT Communities in 2014, those of us who cared about the unfair burden of disease in our community worked alone in our respective organizations, healthcare systems and universities,”said Liz Margolies, Founder and Executive Director of the National LGBT Cancer Network and one of the organizers of the summit. “The summit was designed to break that isolation and harness the power of collaboration, including the voices of cancer survivors, policy makers, researchers and clinicians.”
The summit resulted in an action plan that included 16 recommendations in areas such as sexual orientation and gender identity data collection, research on LGBT communities and cancer, the clinical care of LGBT persons and the education and training of healthcare providers.
“It is our wish and our plan that this White Paper and Action Plan can be used to give legitimacy to the near invisible problem of cancer in the LGBT community and raise funding for change,” Margolies said.
The theme of World Cancer Day was “We can. I can.” The theme was meant to help everyone, either collectively or as individuals, reflect on what they can do to reduce the burden of cancer.
The National LGBT Cancer Action Plan does a great job of laying the groundwork for what we can do collectively to reduce the burden of cancer in the LGBT community and HRC commends the summit organizers and participants for their efforts on this important health issue.