A new systemic review of the literature has shown a clear gap in the understanding of cancer in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or intersex (LGBTI) adolescents and young adults (AYA).
The knowledge that LGBTI adults with cancer face unique disparities in healthcare access and poorer outcomes, and that LGBTI AYA have difficulty accessing health services, led a group of researchers to propose that LGBTI young people with cancer likely represent an at-risk patient population.
The researchers issue a Call to Action aimed at reducing gaps in AYA cancer care, published in a Perspective article in Journal of Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology (JAYAO), a multidisciplinary peer-reviewed publication from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.
The full-text article is available for free on the Journal of Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology (JAYAO) website.
The article entitled "Overlooked Minorities: The Intersection of Cancer in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and/or Intersex Adolescents and Young Adults" was coauthored by Mairghread Clarke, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre (Melbourne), and colleagues from The University of Melbourne and Royal Melbourne Hospital, Melbourne Health, Australia.
The researchers remark on the special challenges that can accompany cancer during the developmental years of adolescence and young adulthood, including issues such as body image, mental health, and youths' emerging independence and autonomy.
All of these can further compound the difficulties faced by AYAs with cancer who identify as LGBTI.
The article provides a detailed look at broader LGBTI health disparities, discrepancies in access to care, and health service barriers.
The Call to Action offers a blueprint for change that begins with acknowledging the risks, identifying the challenges, and specifying recommendations to lessen the gap.
"LGBTI adolescents and teens are already challenged by barriers to healthcare access. Add a life-threatening cancer diagnosis, and you can see that the burden is enormous," says Editor-in-Chief of JAYAO Leonard S. Sender, MD, University of California, Irvine and CHOC Children's Hospital Hyundai Cancer Institute, Orange, CA. "We must not tolerate poorer outcomes for this group with unique needs; we must acknowledge the problem, we must identify the risks, and we must adapt our practice of medicine accordingly."