What Oncologists Should Know About Treating Sexual and Gender Minority Patients With Cancer

Gwendolyn P. Quinn, PhD; Ash B. Alpert, MD, MFA; Megan Sutter, PhD; Matthew B. Schabath, PhD


J Oncol Pract. 2020;16(6):309-316. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Sexual and gender minority (SGM) individuals encompass a broad spectrum of sexual orientations and gender identities. Although SGM is a research term, this population is often known as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ). Typically, LGB refers to sexual orientation, T refers to gender identity, and Q may refer to either. Although each group is distinct, they share the common bond of experiencing health disparities that may be caused, in part, by stigma and discrimination, as well as by the oncology provider's lack of knowledge and, therefore, lack of comfort in treating this population. One challenge in improving the quality of care for SGM patients with cancer is the lack of collection of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) data in the medical record. Furthermore, national studies suggest that many oncologists are unsure of what to do with this information, even when it is collected, and some are uncertain as to why they would need to know the SOGI of their patients. This clinical review offers insight into the health disparities experienced by SGM individuals and strategies for improving the clinical encounter and creating a welcoming environment.