LGBTQ Cancer Research and Support

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The field of LGBTQ cancer is a relatively new area of interest and research, attracting activists, treatment providers, and policy advocates who are working on change in a variety of fronts. Cancer is often addressed as a continuum, including prevention/risk, screening, diagnosis, treatment, survivorship and end of life care. People are working towards understanding and alleviating LGBTQ health disparities on all points along this range.

LGBTQ people have increased cancer risks from behaviors that are responses to the stress and stigma of living as sexual and gender minorities. For example, tobacco use is nearly double that seen in the general population and smoking is a leading cause of multiple cancers. LGBTQ people are also far more likely to use and abuse alcohol, carry the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), less likely to have biological children and have other cancer risk factors. Due to problems with access to care and feared discrimination, LGBTQ people are also less likely to get regular recommended cancer screenings. Meanwhile no national cancer registries collect information about gender identity and sexual orientation. Once diagnosed with cancer, LGBTQ people face additional challenges in survivorship, like finding support and receiving information about cancer’s impact on LGBTQ sexuality, fertility and relationships.

To make a meaningful difference, Individual, policy and social changes are all required. In the meantime, cancer organizations need to learn to address the needs of LGBTQ clients and healthcare workers need to be trained in LGBTQ cultural competence. At the present time, there is only one organization in the U.S. that is focused on LGBT cancer - the National LGBT Cancer Network; most other work is accomplished through university research, individual healthcare systems and larger LGBTQadvocacy organizations.

There are numerous LGBTQ individuals in the cancer research field. While they do not necessarily focus solely on the LGBTQ community itself, they undoubtedly have a specific interest in how cancer uniquely affects the community. They specialize not only in research, but also fundraising, education, support and awareness.

We have identified the following LGBTQ individuals who have made, or are making, notable contributions in this field of research, policy, training and support:


  • Mary Bryson - Professor and principal investigator of the Cancer’s Margins project (CIHR, which studies cancer health knowledge)
  • Chad Goldman - Co-founder, CauseForce, organizer of the 'Weekend To End Breast Cancer' fundraiser
  • Peg Norman - documentary filmmaker on breast cancer, 'My Left Breast'
  • Brian Pendleton - Co-founder, CauseForce, organizer of the 'Weekend to End Breast Cancer' fundraiser
  • Catherine White Holman - social worker and activist

Great Britain

  • Julie Fish - De Montfort University, research addressing LGBTQ cancer inequities
  • Laurence Isaacson - Chair, World Cancer Research Fund


United States

  • Jack Andraka - researcher, cancer detection
  • Carolyn Bertozzi - chemist and cancer researcher
  • Ulrike Boehmer - Associate Professor, Boston University, researching LGBTQ cancer incidence and survivorship
  • Barbara Brenner - former Executive Director, Breast Cancer Action
  • Ann Fonfa - founder and President, Annie Appleseed Project, offering information on complementary, alternative cancer therapies
  • Stephen Goldstone - Medical Doctor, specializing in ano/rectal disorders in the LGBTQ community
  • Paul Hastings, CEO of Nkarta Therapeutics
  • Suzanne Haynes - Chair of the Federal Interagency Working Group on Women's Health and Environment
  • Charles Kamen - Professor and HIV/cancer researcher
  • Susan Love - Oncologist and founder of the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation
  • Nancy Mahon - Chair, President's Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS
  • Liz Margolies - Founder & CEO, National LGBTQ Cancer Network
  • Dan Pallotta - fundraiser for cancer research

See Also

Further Reading/Research

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