Cancer and Sexual Orientation

Cancer prevalence and survivorship different by sexual orientation

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Demographic information regarding sexual orientation and general health is scarce. According to a new research study, the kind of person you are attracted to may affect cancer survivorship.

The research revealed no difference in cancer prevalence by sexual orientation among women. But lesbian and bisexual survivors were more likely to report fair or poor health. Lesbian and bisexual female cancer survivors were 2.0 and 2.3 times more likely to report fair or poor health.

Could it be that lesbian and bisexual women are more likely to reveal their health conditions than heterosexual women?

"Sexual orientation may be related to cancer diagnoses."

Ulrike Boehmer, PhD and colleagues of Boston University School of Public Health and colleagues studied the prevalence of cancer survival by sexual orientation from a number of surveys. 

The researchers also found gay men were more likely to report having cancer than heterosexuals, but survivor health had no difference. Gay men were 1.9 times more likely to report a cancer diagnosis. Are gay men less afraid to receive cancer diagnoses and end up going to the doctor more often?

These findings are important for future studies and provide important information for the lesbian, gay, and bisexual population. Developments on programs and service for these individuals are needed for prevention and survivorship.

Future research should be done to determine the reasons behind the findings and clear up questions like: “Are lesbian and bisexual women just as likely as heterosexual women to receive a cancer diagnosis?”

The Study

  • Findings come from Cancer, journal of American Cancer Society
  • Data from California Health Interview survey 2001, 2003, 2005
  • 7,252 women and 3,690 men diagnosed with cancer
Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 10, 2011
Last Updated:
May 12, 2011