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Cancer Keys

Why are lesbian, gay or bisexual women less likely to take up their cervical screening invite?

Published: 1st August 2022

Cervical screening prevents up to 75% of cervical cancers from developing and not attending is the biggest risk factor for developing cervical cancer.

Anyone with a cervix (aged 25 to 64) is eligible to attend cervical screening. Yet, as well as dealing with common barriers, lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB)  women sadly face the myth that they don’t need to attend cervical screening. This is driven by misconceptions and poor understanding around the causative effects of HPV and the subsequent development of cervical cancer.

Research from the LGBT Foundation has shown that 40% of LGB women aged 25 – 64 have incorrectly been told they don’t need to attend because of their sexual orientation.  This has fundamentally had a devastating impact on attendance rates and subsequently declining cervical screening in the LGB community.

As a healthcare professional if consulting with an LGB patient:

  • Be sensitive to any specific anxiety they may have in healthcare appointments
  • Try not to make assumptions about the gender of someone’s partner or the type of sexual relationships they are having
  • Be aware that they may have experienced discrimination in the past because of their sexual orientation and this may impact how comfortable they feel about the appointment.

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