The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) published a position statement on reducing cancer health disparities to address the needs of patients, caregivers, and the oncology workforce who identify as part of the sexual and gender minority (SGM) population. The statement was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.1

There is a disproportionate cancer burden among members of the SGM population, which encompasses those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex.

ASCO formed a Health Disparities Committee that identified 5 areas that must be addressed to reduce cancer health disparities: patient education and support, workforce development and diversity, quality improvement strategies, research strategies, and policy solutions.

The recommendations to improve patient education and support include enhanced patient navigation and care coordination, more educational resources that are culturally competent and that address cancer prevention, and the creation of safe spaces.

ASCO recommends that workforce development should include cultural and SGM training so that providers are knowledgeable of SGM-specific issues, but also to reduce discrimination against health care providers who identify as an SGM.

The call for quality improvement strategies includes collection of SGM-related data for use to improve or individualize care. The position statement also highlights the need for research strategies to increase knowledge of the health care needs and outcomes of the SGM population.

ASCO recommends that institutions and practices develop and enforce policies that support culturally competent SGM care and prohibit discrimination against SGM patients and providers.

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The committee wrote that to correct the suboptimal access to cancer prevention, screening, and care experienced by the SGM population, “it is necessary to address barriers at many levels, including interpersonal and institutional barriers to optimal care and outcomes.”

Reference

  1. Griggs J, Maingi S, Blinder V, et al. American Society of Clinical Oncology position statement: strategies for reducing cancer health disparities among sexual and gender minority populations. J Clin Oncol. 2017 Apr 3. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2016.72.0441 [Epub ahead of print]