Culturally Sensitive Cancer Care

Steps must be taken to increase medical knowledge and sensitivity to transgender issues, reduce health care disparities for the transgender community, and to continue to create and promote an atmosphere of safety and inclusion for transgender patients.  According to a 2017 National LGBT Health Education Center report, the responsibility of health care and medical providers is to create “a setting of respect and trust. This requires referring to the transgender patient by their preferred name and pronoun, reassuring the patient about confidentiality, educating clinic staff and colleagues regarding transgender issues, and respecting the patient’s wishes regarding potentially sensitive physical examinations and tests.… Familiarity with commonly used terms and the diversity of identities within the transgender community is essential.”7 Only by ensuring the inclusion of the transgender community, can there be an even greater, broader, and more diverse interest in study and research to improve the lives of the transgender client.

William Goeren is director of Clinical Programs at CancerCare.


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1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Healthy People 2020. Published November 2010. Accessed June 2, 2019.

2. Fenway Health. Glossary of Gender and Transgender Terms. January 2010 Revision. Accessed June 26, 2019.

3. Reisner S. Meeting the health care needs of transgender people [webinar]. National LGBT Health Education Center website. Presented on: December 11, 2012. Accessed June 27, 2019.

4. Boehmer U, Elk R, eds. Cancer and the LGBT Community: Unique Perspectives from Risk to Survivorship. Switzerland: Springer International Publishing; 2015.

5. What Transgender People Should Know About Cancer [InSight]. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute website. Published February 8, 2017. Accessed June 25, 2019.

6. James SE, Herman JL, Rankin S, Keisling M., Mottet L, Anafi M. The Report of the 2015 U.S.Transgender Survey. 2016; Washington, DC: National Center for Transgender Equality.

7. Ashbee O, Goldberg JM. Trans Care Project. Trans Care Medical Issues: Trans people and cancer. Published February 2006. Accessed July 2, 2019.

8. Braun H, Nash R, Tangpricha V, et al. Cancer in transgender people: evidence and methodological considerations. Epidemiol Rev. 2017;39:93-107. doi: 10.1093/epirev/mxw003