LGBTQ community at higher risk for cancer

Posted at 5:34 PM, Sep 17, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-17 17:34:29-04

New research at the Moffitt Cancer Center shows the LGBTQ community is at higher risk for multiple types of cancer but isn't getting the screenings they need. 

Sean Ortiz said he avoided a check-up for so long.

"I had waited a while because I was ashamed I guess going into my doctor's office and talking to my doctor about that kind of stuff, being a gay man," Ortiz said. 

Doctors found Ortiz's colorectal pre-cancer and have been treating him. 

"I caught it early, I got lucky," Ortiz said. 

At Moffitt Cancer Center, Dr. Julian Sanchez says the entire LGBTQ community is at a higher risk for cancer and many aren't getting essential exams to find it.

"Times have changed and I think talking to your doctor should change also," Ortiz said.

"Some patients within the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community feel somewhat distrust or a disconnect with their healthcare system they may not feel like its a safe place for them to go to get appropriate care without any judgment,"  Dr. Julian Sanchez, a colorectal surgeon at Moffitt Cancer Center, said. 

Dr. Sanchez's research finds higher rates of all cancer with people who identify as LGBTQ , especially cervical cancer, rectal cancer and lung cancer . He said the way doctors need to talk with their patients has changed. 

"We should pay particular attention to certain patients and screen them more appropriately so some patients may need more screening than another patient based on their lifestyle, sexual orientation or how they self-identify,' Dr. Sanchez said. 

Now doctors at Moffitt are working on a national screening protocol, so doctors do everything they can to catch cancer early in LGBTQ patients.

"I'm alive and I'm healthy you know and now I'm aware and I can actually take care of myself even better now," Ortiz said. 

Now Ortiz tells everyone to go and get checked.