New research shows the difficulties many LGBT people face, even after they beat cancer.
A study of more than 70,000 cancer survivors conducted by Boston University researchers shows that LGBT cancer survivors receive less access to follow-up care for preventing and detecting recurrences, and screening for long-term effects of cancer treatments than their heterosexual counterparts.
That can lead such sexual minorities, especially LGBT women, to suffer from poorer mental and physical health post-cancer in a country where there could be more than 1 million LGBT cancer survivors in need of care.
"There is a silent epidemic," says study author Uli Boehmer, an associate professor of community health sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health.
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The research adds to evidence suggesting the LGBT community faces discrimination and insensitivity in health care.
Boehmer notes that LGBT people, especially women, are more likely to have jobs that do not provide health insurance and also struggle more often to afford co-payments for follow-up visits.
Furthermore, the study highlights a significant lack of data collection about LGBT cancer survivors' experiences with medical care, suggesting doctors don't yet know the extent of the problem.
Boehmer, who has studied cancer in the LGBT community for more than 30 years, says the fight to bridge the knowledge gap remains frustrating.
"We don't even have data yet on the types of treatments they get or if they're being treated according to guidelines or not," says Boehmer. "We need to chip away at this big black hole where we know very little about what's going on."