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Time to Change: Supporting Sexual and Gender Minority People—An Underserved, Understudied Cancer Risk Population

Juno Obedin-Maliver

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Representation of Sexual and Gender Minority People in Patient Nondiscrimination Policies of Cancer Centers in the United States

Iman K. Berrahou, Ava Snow, Megan Swanson, and Juno Obedin-Maliver

Background: Sexual and gender minority (SGM) people are an underserved population who face high rates of discrimination in healthcare, including receipt of cancer treatment. Several national organizations have identified the importance of patient nondiscrimination policies that explicitly recognize SGM people in creating safe healthcare environments. Methods: We performed a web-based analysis of NCI-designated Cancer Centers to evaluate the landscape of patient nondiscrimination policies in major cancer centers with regard to representation of SGM people. Results: We found that 82% of cancer centers had a patient nondiscrimination policy on their website. The most commonly mentioned SGM-related term was “sex” (n=48; 89%), followed by “sexual orientation” (n=37; 69%) and “gender identity” (n=36; 67%). None of the policies included “sex assigned at birth” or “LGBTQ/SGM identity.” Of the policies reviewed, 65% included protections for both sexual orientation and gender identity. Cancer centers with academic affiliations were significantly more likely to have policies that included both of these protections compared with nonacademic institutions (100% vs 79%; P=.005). Conclusions: Our study shows that patient nondiscrimination policies across NCI-designated Cancer Centers are not always accessible to patients and their families online and do not consistently represent SGM people in their content. Because the SGM population is both at higher risk for cancer and for discrimination in the healthcare setting, it is crucial to create inclusive, safe, and equitable cancer care environments for this group. Administrators and clinicians should view the patient nondiscrimination policy as an opportunity to offer expansive protections to SGM people that extend beyond those offered in federal and state laws. Additionally, the patient nondiscrimination policy should be visible and accessible to patients seeking cancer care as a signal of safety and inclusion.

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The Value and Process of Inclusion: Using Sensitive, Respectful, and Inclusive Language and Images in NCCN Content

Deborah A. Freedman-Cass, Tanya Fischer, Ash B. Alpert, Juno Obedin-Maliver, Pamela L. Kunz, Wui-Jin Koh, and Robert W. Carlson

A core component of NCCN’s mission is to improve and facilitate equitable cancer care. Inclusion and representation of diverse populations are essential toward this goal of equity. Within NCCN’s professional content, inclusivity increases the likelihood that clinicians are prepared to provide optimal oncology care to all patients; within NCCN’s patient-facing content, it helps ensure that cancer information is relevant and accessible for all individuals. This article describes changes that have been made in the language and images used in the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines) and the NCCN Guidelines for Patients to promote justice, respect, and inclusion for all patients with cancer. The goals are to use language that is person-first, nonstigmatizing, inclusive of individuals of all sexual orientations and gender identities, and anti-racist, anti-classist, anti-misogynist, anti-ageist, anti-ableist, and anti–fat-biased. NCCN also seeks to incorporate multifaceted diversity in images and illustrations. NCCN is committed to continued and expanding efforts to ensure its publications are inclusive, respectful, and trustworthy, and that they advance just, equitable, high-quality, and effective cancer care for all.