A study by the Boston University School of Public Health has found a need to create health programs specifically promoting the well-being of lesbian, gay, and bisexual cancer survivors. The research was lead by Ulrike Boehmer, associate professor of community health sciences.

The results found that gay men were 1.9 times more likely to report a cancer diagnosis than heterosexual men. Though there were no significant differences in cancer prevalence among women with varied sexual orientation, the study showed that lesbian and bisexual cancer survivors were respectively two and 2.3 times more likely to report fair or poor health than heterosexual cancer survivors.

In a BU Today article, Boehmer says the differences in the prevalence of cancer survivorship raises questions about possible differences in the cancer rates by sexual orientation. She also says they can only speculate that HIV status may have contributed to the higher cancer prevalence in gay men, but they were unable to address this in the study since they didn’t have data on the participants’ HIV status.

The significance of the study, according to Boehmer, is the finding that sexual orientation may be a factor in cancer incidence and outcomes. The study concludes saying lesbian and bisexual cancer survivors need to be targeted by programs and services to better assist them in improving their health perceptions. The study also suggests health care providers and public health agencies need to be made aware of the higher prevalence of cancer in gay men through increased screening and primary prevention.

The study was published online in Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, and included data from the California Health Interview Survey.

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