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LGBTQI+ people and cancer


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Challenges you might face

From diagnosis to treatment and beyond, the experience of having cancer is different for everyone, affecting every aspect of life. Extra challenges may include physical changes that impact your sense of identity, and practical issues such as getting appropriate cancer screening and hospital care. Support networks may be different because of limited contact, or no contact, with family of origin.

Many LGBTQI+ people have experienced discrimination and had other negative experiences throughout their lives because of their sexual orientation, gender and/or sex characteristics. If they have experienced discrimination or been refused health care in the past, this may mean you do not feel safe seeking health care or disclosing information needed for treating cancer holistically.

Research shows that as an LGBTQI+ person diagnosed with cancer you may have to deal with unique challenges, including:

  • health professionals making assumptions about your sexual orientation, gender and sex characteristics, which can make you feel invisible
  • anxiety about coming out as LGBTQI+ and fear of negative reactions from health professionals
  • higher levels of depression and anxiety because of a history of marginalisation, violence, stigma, exclusion and discrimination (sometimes called minority stress)
  • difficulty having your partner/s or other significant people recognised as your family
  • less or no support from your family of origin
  • little or no LGBTQI+ specific cancer information or support
  • lack of knowledge among health professionals about issues specific to LGBTQI+ people.


LGBTQI+ People and Cancer

Download our LGBTQI+ People and Cancer booklet to learn more.

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Expert content reviewers:

The chief investigators on the project were Prof Jane Ussher, Prof Janette Perz, Prof Martha Hickey, Prof Suzanne Chambers, Prof Gary Dowsett, Prof Ian Davis, Prof Katherine Boydell, Prof Kerry Robinson and Dr Chloe Parton. Partner investigators were Dr Fiona McDonald and A/Prof Antoinette Anazodo. Research Associates were Dr Rosalie Power, Dr Kimberley Allison and Dr Alexandra J. Hawkey.

Page last updated:

The information on this webpage was adapted from LGBTQI+ People and Cancer (2023 edition). This webpage was last updated in December 2023. 

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