In Australia, more people than ever before are surviving cancer. We’ve made extraordinary progress in the past several decades. But we also know that these achievements are not experienced evenly across communities.
In 2023 during Sydney World Pride, we delivered a landmark publication, and the first of its kind in the world, for people affected by cancer in Australia’s LGBTQI+ communities: LGBTQI+ People and Cancer: A guide for people with cancer, their families and friends.
This new 80-page booklet was developed by Cancer Council NSW and created as part of Western Sydney University’s Out with Cancer research project in collaboration with Professor Jane Ussher and her team.
The new resource answers common questions and offers tips for navigating a cancer diagnosis when you are LGBTQI+ – (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and other diverse sexualities and genders, as well as people with intersex variations).
Guided by the research: LGBTQI+ communities experience higher distress and poorer cancer outcomes
The Out with Cancer research project shows that LGBTQI+ people experience higher levels of distress during cancer treatment and have poorer cancer outcomes. Prof Jane Ussher along with her team, found that rates of distress were 3-6 times higher in LGBTQI+ communities than the general cancer population.
In particular, anxiety about the disclosure of LGBTQI+ status was high, as it was associated with fear of hostility and discrimination. The study also found that distress was higher in adolescent and young adults, trans and non-binary people, those with intersex variations, and people living in rural and regional areas.
“You can’t understate the power of displaying your organisation or practice’s support of diversity with posters, flags and availability of specific LGBTQI+ resources,” says Prof Ussher.
Since launch, we saw:
page visits on the new web page by the end of June.
downloads of the new booklet.
print copies picked up across NSW.
Julie McCrossin believes this is a step in the right direction
Julie McCrossin is a renowned broadcaster, LGBTQI+ rights advocate, lesbian woman and cancer survivor.
When Julie was going through cancer treatment, she found Cancer Council information booklets very useful and they gave her a feeling of hope and recovery.
She believes the new LGBTQI+ focused booklet is important because, “a cancer centre displaying this booklet sends an instantly recognisable message that the team is truly welcoming LGBTQI+ patients. This will bring relief and a sense of support at a time when you really need it.”
Julie acknowledges that “many of us have experienced discrimination and rejection in our lives before cancer”. She believes the booklets are important for educating health professionals as well to improve their ability to deliver care to LGBTQI+ cancer patients.
As Julie explains, “The last thing we want to deal with when facing a potentially life-threatening diagnosis is an ill-informed response from the health professionals we are relying on for treatment and care”.
You can pick up a free copy of LGBTQI+ People and Cancer: A guide for people with cancer, their families and friends in select hospitals and cancer treatment centres throughout Australia, online at cancercouncil.com.au/lgbtqi or by calling Cancer Council on 13 11 20 for a free copy