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What people who identify as LGBTQ should know about cancer

By Jessica Saenz, Mayo Clinic

Barriers to health care largely due to stigma and discrimination make members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and gender-nonconforming community particularly vulnerable to cancer.

Navigating the health care system as an LGBTQ person can be challenging and uncomfortable, but taking steps to find proper care and understanding your cancer risks could save your life.

Here’s what you should know about cancer if you identify as LGBTQ:

Barriers to health care contribute to cancer disparities in LGBTQ people.

LGBTQ people have consistently low rates of insurance coverage and are more likely to live below the poverty line, according to the American Cancer Society. These barriers make it more challenging for people who identify as LGBTQ to get the cancer screenings and care they need.

Many LGBTQ people face discrimination from health care professionals. “Unfortunately, health care practitioners have been one of those barriers to LGBTQ people getting good care. LGBTQ people are concerned about facing discrimination, or they have faced flat-out discrimination,” says Juliana Kling, M.D., chair of the Women’s Health Center at Mayo Clinic in Arizona.

In a recent study from the American Association for Cancer Research, 16% of people who identify as sexual and gender minorities reported discrimination while seeking health care, and nearly 1 in 5 of those who identify as sexual and gender minorities said they have avoided getting health care out of fear of discrimination. Read more …