Moffitt Cancer Center Works to Improve Cancer Healthcare Disparities in LGBTQ Community

September 15, 2016

TAMPA, Fla. – The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer /Questioning (LGBTQ) community is growing, with an estimated 3 to 12 percent of Americans identifying as LGBTQ. But this minority group is also medically-underserved, especially when it comes to cancer care. Moffitt Cancer Center is leading the charge to better understand the needs of this group and identify educational opportunities for healthcare providers to foster a better experience for all involved.

In August, Moffitt researchers invited LGBTQ academic and advocacy experts from across the country to join them to discuss barriers and opportunities to overcome cancer healthcare disparities in the LGBTQ community. Attendees, who included researchers and advocates from the National Institutes of Health and National LGBT Cancer Network, reviewed survey responses from healthcare providers and members of the LGBTQ community to determine areas for improvement and outline possible solutions. 

“The cancer-related needs and concerns of the LGBTQ community are a crucial area that needs to be addressed by both healthcare providers and the research community.  Understanding the cultural diversity of each group and their preferences can help us design programs and interventions to meet their unique needs,” said Gwendolyn P. Quinn, Ph.D., senior member of the Health Outcomes and Behavior Program at Moffitt.

The LGBTQ community deals with significant economic and health disparities. Gay and lesbian families tend to be poorer than heterosexual families, and LGBTQ adults are less inclined to seek health services than heterosexual adults.  Studies suggest up to 30 percent of LGBTQ adults do not regularly see a physician in comparison to 10 percent of heterosexual and cisgender adults.  Those who are part of the LGBTQ community deal with significant barriers to healthcare, including insurance issues, lack of comfort in disclosing sexual orientation and gender identity, and distrust in physician-patient confidentiality.

“Research shows that some LGBTQ groups tend to have a higher prevalence of cancer risk factors and behaviors, including higher rates of smoking, alcohol consumption, obesity and high-risk sexual behavior. This is what makes our research so crucial. Not only are we looking to make cancer care appointments and treatments a positive experience for providers and patients. We also want to create materials to educate the LGBTQ community about cancer risks and screening,” said Matthew B. Schabath, Ph.D., assistant member of the Cancer Epidemiology Program at Moffitt.

Moffitt researchers are developing training and educational opportunities for health care providers to learn more about the medical and psychosocial needs of the LGBTQ community and improve patient-physician communication. With the aid of the panel’s recommendations, cancer prevention and supportive care educational materials will also be developed for the LGBTQ community.

About Moffitt Cancer Center
Moffitt is dedicated to one lifesaving mission: to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer. The Tampa-based facility is one of only 47 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, a distinction that recognizes Moffitt’s excellence in research, clinical trials, prevention and cancer control. Moffitt is the No. 6 cancer hospital in the nation and has been listed in U.S. News & World Report as one of the “Best Hospitals” for cancer care since 1999. Moffitt devotes more than 2.5 million square feet to research and patient care. Moffitt’s expert nursing staff is recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center with Magnet® status, its highest distinction. With more than 5,200 team members, Moffitt has an economic impact in the state of $2.1 billion. For more information, call 1-888-MOFFITT (1-888-663-3488), visit, and follow the momentum on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube