American Cancer Society partners with Mautner on lesbian cancer issues
The American Cancer Society has begun collaborating with the Mautner Project, the national lesbian health organization, to learn how to better meet the cancer education and support needs of the lesbian community. Studies suggest that lesbians are at greater risk for developing breast cancer and some gynecological cancers. This elevated risk is partially because lesbians are less likely to undergo regular gynecological exams, have fewer mammograms, and are less likely to perform regular breast self-examinations compared to heterosexual women. Lesbians also have higher rates of risk factors for these cancers, including obesity, alcohol and tobacco use, and the fact that they generally have not borne children.
With the assistance of the Mautner Project, the American Cancer Society conducted focus groups in Washington, D.C., with lesbian cancer survivors, their partners, and caregivers attending a nationwide conference to determine how to better reach lesbians. The society is currently acting on key recommendations from the surveys to develop a more meaningful relationship with lesbians who may not be aware of their risk factors. Activities already in place include: the creation of publications titled Cancer Facts for Lesbians and Bisexual Women and Tobacco and the GLBT Community; the inclusion of lesbians in the society's advocacy efforts; sending speakers to local meetings of lesbian organizations; and inviting lesbians to speak at society events. The society also has posted stories on the relationship between cancer and sexual orientation on its Web site at www.cancer.org. A discussion board for lesbians also was added to the Web site.
"These activities and others in the planning stage demonstrate the society's commitment to serving the needs of all people with cancer and their families, partners, and friends," said Eve M. Nagler, the national society's director of special populations. Kathleen DeBold, executive director of the Mautner Project, says, "Although lesbians have higher risk factors for certain cancers, there are very few places where we can turn for help. The Mautner Project is proud to assist the society in its heartfelt mission of helping all people face the challenges of cancer--regardless of their sexual orientation."