New Report Identifies Need for Inclusive Cancer Care Policies to Address Specific Healthcare Needs and Inequalities for LGBTQI+ Community

20 June 2024

To mark Pride Month, The European Cancer Organisation (ECO), through its Inequalities Network, has released a timely report on reducing disparities in cancer care faced by the LGBTQI+ community. The report, titled ‘Cancer Care for the LGBTQI+ Community: Addressing Inequalities’, is the result of a comprehensive workshop involving clinicians, researchers, policymakers, and LGBTQI+ advocates.

The significant disparities and systemic barriers faced by LGBTQI+ individuals when accessing cancer care include: discrimination, lack of culturally competent care, and limited access to services. Collectively, these contribute to delayed diagnoses and suboptimal treatment outcomes.

‘Imagine facing a life-threatening illness while confronting discrimination and stigma in healthcare settings for many LGBTQI+ individuals with cancer, this is their everyday reality,’ said ECO President Csaba Dégi, referencing the report. ‘Healthcare providers should undergo thorough training on cultural competence and LGBTQI+ health issues. This will ensure that cancer care is inclusive and respectful for all patients.’

The report outlines several targeted recommendations to improve cancer care for this marginalised community. By implementing these, healthcare providers, policymakers, and community advocates can work together to eliminate disparities and improve health outcomes for the LGBTQI+ cancer community.

Key Recommendations

1. Policy Changes:

  • Develop inclusive cancer care policies in collaboration with LGBTQI+ community representatives to address specific healthcare needs.
  • Ensure that policies are evidence-based, leveraging available intelligence to inform their development.
  • Advocate for institutional, regional, and national changes that promote equity in cancer care for the LGBTQI+ community.

2. Education and Training:

  • Implement training programmes to enhance healthcare professionals’ cultural competence and understanding of LGBTQI+ health needs.
  • Develop and disseminate educational materials targeting both the LGBTQI+ community and healthcare providers to raise awareness about cancer risks.

3. Community Engagement:

  • Involve LGBTQI+ advocacy groups and community members in the development and implementation of cancer care initiatives.
  • Foster an inclusive healthcare environment by promoting open communication and understanding.

4. Screening and Treatment:

  • Revise clinical guidelines to affirm LGBTQI+ identities, promoting a holistic approach to health based on physical needs rather than psychiatric care.
  • Advocate for personalised medicine plans that account for the diverse identities within the LGBTQI+ community.
  • Develop screening programmes based on individuals’ body parts and sex characteristics rather than gender markers on identity documents to improve early diagnosis and treatment outcomes.

5. Social and Healthcare Interventions:

  • Launch targeted campaigns, such as HPV vaccination drives and substance abuse awareness, tailored to the LGBTQI+ community.
  • Encourage community engagement by involving LGBTQI+ individuals with firsthand experience of cancer in awareness and advocacy efforts.
Additonal quotes

'The biggest challenge faced by the LGBTQI+ community regarding cancer involves barriers such as discrimination, lack of culturally competent care and limited access to healthcare services across several countries. This is compounded by societal stigma and marginalisation that really contribute to delayed diagnosis.'

Nicolò Battisti, Co-Chair, Inequalities Network and Co-Chair, LGBTQI+ Workstream, European Cancer Organisation; Consultant Medical Oncologist & Clinical Lead of the Senior Adults Oncology Programme, Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust


'Lack or preparedness of healthcare professionals to provide inclusive, respectful care to the LGBTQI+ community is the biggest challenge faced by this community regarding cancer. This critically impacts patient experience, satisfaction and overall trust.' 

Shereen Nabhani-Gebara, Associate professor of Oncology, Interprofessional Education Lead for Pharmacy, Faculty of Health, Science, Social Care and Education, Kingston University London


'Our community faces interpersonal, educational, medical, and systemic barriers to equitable cancer care. Underpinning all of these factors is a consistent trend across Europe of omission in the data that guides cancer service improvement. We must work towards destigmatised, routine SOGIESC monitoring in our screening programmes, cancer care, patient records, clinical trials, disease registries, and so on. It is time that we move beyond the limitations of small studies, surveys, and Patient-Reported Outcome Measures, and begin to demand large scale national data for important clinical factors such as diagnosis, staging, adherence, and outcomes for a more holistic picture of our community's cancer care.'  

Stewart O'Callaghan (they/them), Co-Chair, LGBTQI+ Workstream, European Cancer Organisation; Founder & Chief Executive Officer, OUTpatients