October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a month set aside for educating the public about the disease, raising money to combat the cancer, and promoting screenings for both men and women. Though many communities across the U.S. are fighting back against breast cancer, the LGBTQ community is especially hard hit when it comes to any cancer, even breast cancer.
There’s many reasons why the LGBT community suffers from breast cancer. Here’s a few:
- Studies have shown that lesbian and bisexual women are less likely to get routine screenings for breast cancer (as well as colon and cervical cancer).
- For lesbian or bisexual women who give birth and breastfeed later in life or who never give birth have a slightly higher risk for breast cancer.
- LGBT persons face a higher rate of discrimination among healthcare providers or with their insurance, and tend to put off screenings or medical attention.
- LBT women are at a higher risk for breast cancer because they have higher rates of smoking, obesity, and drinking which contribute to a higher rate of cancer.
- Hormone replacement therapy might increase a trans person’s risk for breast cancer, especially if they’re taking estrogen. It can promote cancer cell growth for those with estrogen receptive breast cancer disease.
Though the risk for LGBT persons having breast cancer is higher, that’s not to say that we can’t help the LGBT community and families be more aware this Breast Cancer Awareness Month as there’s a number of resources for the LGBT community.
For instance, the National LGBT Cancer Project is committed to providing cancer-related programs, support, and research for the LGBT community. They share stories from gay men with breast cancer and transgender persons with breast cancer. There’s also links to information on clinical trials for breast cancer, support groups for breast cancer, informational articles for working with your insurance, and cancer treatment centers.
Check out this awesome video by Liz Margolies, founder and executive director of the National LGBT Cancer Project, where she discusses why LGBT persons have a higher risk for cancer and how we can work to change this.
Living Beyond Breast Cancer has also created a section for the LGBT community on their website with resources. They created a wonderful brochure for how LGBT persons with breast cancer can come out to their doctor, discuss fertility options for the future, and find LGBT-friendly doctors to work with during their cancer treatment. Click here to be directed to it. The LBBC also provides a section of support groups specifically for LGBT persons with cancer, and one that focuses on LGBT persons with breast cancer.
Routine screenings and early detection is important for all persons when it comes to battling breast cancer — especially for the LGBT community. We encourage you to take a look at these resources and share them with others, as Breast Cancer Awareness Month reminds us that we can only battle and defeat this disease together.