Supporting LGBTQ+ Health Equity Through Public Policy

March 18, 2024

At the American Cancer Society and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), health equity means that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to prevent, detect, treat, and survive cancer. As part of our deep commitment to advancing health equity, ACS CAN launched new policy recommendations to support equitable cancer care and eliminate cancer disparities in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ+) communities. 

LGBTQ+ individuals face a disproportionate cancer burden—including cancer risk factors, screening disparities, and obstacles to prevention, detection, treatment, and survivorship care—often because of systemic factors that go beyond the connection to cancer. 

According to an ACS CAN Survivor Views survey, 58% of LGBTQ+ cancer patients and survivors surveyed are concerned about the political climate in their state or around the country impacting their ability to get health care, while 49% are concerned that a provider may feel it is too risky to treat them due to anti-LGBTQ+ laws passed in the state where they practice. 

Across the country, we’re working to increase access to quality, affordable care, eliminate cancer disparities, and break down barriers to proven cancer prevention and early detection tools for LGBTQ+ people. To support this work, ACS CAN commissioned the National LGBT Cancer Network to produce a report on the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ people impacted by cancer. ACS CAN’s LGBTQIA+ & Allies Engagement Group was also instrumental in informing these policy recommendations. 

Using these new recommendations, ACS CAN will continue our commitment to health equity by advancing public policies to eliminate barriers to cancer care for LGBTQ+ people. We will also continue to actively evaluate the impact of our engagement at both the federal and state levels on legislation that would prohibit discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, and federally funded programs.  

To guarantee that all people—no matter their sexual orientation, gender identity, skin color, disability status, location, or income—have access to quality, affordable health care, we must eliminate health disparities in all communities. This is critical to ending cancer as we know it, for everyone.