Cancer Network Targets Needs of LGBT Community in Idaho and Beyond

A nationwide program founded in 2007 by members of the LGBT community to help address specific health needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) cancer survivors and those at risk has added some 300 facilities to its ever-growing network.

Three of those facilities are located right here in Idaho.

According to a recent press release, The National LGBT Cancer Network’s expanded directory now includes,”a starred designation for facilities that have shown an exceptional commitment to transgender health.”

“Many other cancer screening facilities are, if not outright hostile, unaware of how to treat transgender patients. This means, for instance, that a transgender man seeking a mammogram may be asked to don a pink robe or sit in the women’s waiting room – a humiliating experience. At both the starred facilities and any of the other facilities in the directory, transgender patients can join lesbians, gays, and bisexuals in resting assured that they will not be discriminated against,” says the Network.

Cancer is the leading cause of death in Idaho and is also the number one cause of death among the 45-54, 55-64, and 65-74 year old age groups.

While specific data regarding the LGBT community and cancer is hard to come by, the network reports that,”there is reason to believe that LGBT people are carrying a disproportionate cancer burden.”

According to Liz Margolies, the group’s Executive Director,”LGBT people are at increased risk of cancer, not due to any physiological differences, but behaviors, many of which result from the stress of living as sexual and gender minorities in this country. As a group, for example, lesbians drink more, smoke more, are less likely to have a biological child before age 30, and more likely to be overweight and eat a high-fat diet. All these increase their cancer risks considerably.”

“Gay men have very high rates of HPV, the virus that can lead to anal cancer. In fact, anal cancer rates in this population are 40 times higher than in the general population. A simple screening procedure, an anal pap smear, can test for precancerous changes, but too few men are aware of the need for or existence of the test, or out to their provider who could then recommend it. Long-term HIV survivors are now also known to be at much greater risk for several types of cancer, including lung and renal cancer as well as anal cancer,” Margolies says.

Besides the national registry of clinics and facilities, the organization’s website also offers a web-based risk assessment test, educational resources about cancer and the LGBT community as well as a cultural competence training course for facilities seeking to join the network.

Click HERE to see the list of screening facilities in Idaho.

Click HERE to learn more about The National LGBT Cancer Network.



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