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Cancer Survivorship and Sexual Orientation (Cancer)

May 1, 2011

CHIS Journal Article

Authors: Ulrike Boehmer, et al

Lesbian, gay, and bisexual populations are not part of cancer surveillance, resulting in scarce information about the cancer survivorship of these populations. To address this information gap, the authors examined the prevalence of cancer survivorship by sexual orientation and cancer survivors' self-reported health by sexual orientation.

The authors explored these issues by analyzing pooled data from the California Health Interview survey from 2001, 2003, and 2005. By using descriptive statistics and logistic regressions, they examined the cancer prevalence in men and women by sexual orientation and subsequently compared the self-reported health of male and female cancer survivors by sexual orientation.

Among women, the authors found no significant differences in cancer prevalence by sexual orientation, but lesbian and bisexual female cancer survivors had 2.0 and 2.3x the odds of reporting fair or poor health compared with heterosexual female cancer survivors. Among men, the authors found significant differences in cancer prevalence, with gay men having 1.9x the odds of reporting a cancer diagnosis compared with heterosexual men. There were no differences by sexual orientation in male cancer survivors' self-reported health.

The findings suggest sex differences in the impact of cancer on lesbian, gay, and bisexual cancer survivors. Lesbian and bisexual cancer survivors need to be targeted by programs and services to assist these cancer survivors in improving their health perceptions, whereas healthcare providers and public health agencies need to be made aware of the higher prevalence of cancer in gay men to prevent future cancers through increased screening and primary prevention.

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