Reducing the cancer burden in the LGBTQ+ community - Primary Health

Reducing the cancer burden in the LGBTQ+ community

  • June 5, 2024

  • Adi Chandrasekhar, MD, MPH, FACP

  • 2 minutes

LGBTQ+ cancer

Improving access to health screenings can help to reduce some cancers disproportionately affecting the LGBTQ+ community.

As we kick off Pride Month, today’s blog post will delve into the cancer burden among the LGBTQ+ community and some strategies for reducing it. Community members remain at risk for the same cancers as everyone else, but they may also be uniquely at risk for certain other cancers.

Anal cancers

Anal cancers are more common in gay and bisexual men as compared to the general population. Most anal cancers are linked to infection with the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Vaccination against HPV can greatly reduce the risk of having HPV infections that increase risk of cancer.

When detected early, anal cancer can be amenable to cure. Consequently, another key preventive strategy is to get anal pap smears. Anal pap smears are performed in the office with a simple swab that does not need any special preparation. While precise guidelines for anal pap smears in this population are still being developed, it is worth discussing this screening with a healthcare provider.


Gay and bisexual men are more disproportionately impacted by HIV than their heterosexual counterparts. HIV uniquely increases the risk for various malignancies including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, and HPV-related cancers. Getting screened for HIV, initiating prompt treatment, and maintaining adherence can help reduce this risk. 


Transgender women have increased cancer rates for various reasons, including facing discrimination when seeking healthcare and lower rates of insurance coverage. This is further compounded by increased rates of smoking as well as decreased screening rates. 

Finally, it is worth reminding ourselves that members of the LGBTQ community need to get screened for common cancers, including breast cancer, colorectal cancer, cervical cancer, prostate cancer, and lung cancer. Some members of the community face barriers to healthcare that can decrease rates of cancer screening and increase diagnosis at later stages. 

As we mark Pride Month, take the next step in learning more about your cancer risks and how Primary.Health community-based self-testing can help reduce disease risk and empower people to take control of their health.

Disclaimer: This blog content and linked materials are not intended as individual medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, and should not be considered as such. Any readers with medical concerns should contact a licensed healthcare provider. This blog is provided for informational purposes only.

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