Recommendations for Promoting Sexual and Gender Minority Inclusion in Oncology Care

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Approximately 10% of adults in the United States self-report being members of sexual and gender minorities (SGMs), which means that most oncologists will treat SGM patients in their practice. Here are some suggestions on how clinicians and oncology institutions can help SGM patients feel safe and welcomed.

Recommendations for Oncology Clinicians

Introduce yourself with your name and pronouns, query the same information from all patients, and then use that name and those pronouns consistently, in person and in documentation.

Avoid gendered language when asking about partners.

Avoid gendered language when referring to specific cancers (eg, “women’s cancers”).

Engage in shared medical decision-making particularly in settings where patient priorities differ from guidelines or in discussing gender-related care (eg, hormones, surgeries) in the setting of cancer treatment.

Recommendations for Oncology Institutions

Ensure the availability of all-gender restrooms.

Ensure that nondiscrimination policies cover sexual orientation and gender identity and that clear and accessible grievance policies exist for patients who experience discrimination.

Ensure intake forms are inclusive of SGM individuals by omitting language that makes gendered presumptions about anatomy (eg, “for women only: when was your last period?”).

Ensure intake forms are inclusive of SGM individuals by including a broad range of answer options (eg, questions about gender identity include nonbinary, agender, genderfluid, genderqueer, and/or other options).

Engage in comprehensive data collection, including querying sexual orientation and gender identity.

Ensure clinical trial criteria do not exclude participants based on gender identity, hormone profiles, or HIV status unless clinically indicated.

Ensure names of clinics and other settings are not gendered.

Ensure gowns and other clothing items provided are gender-neutral and/or that multiple options exist from which to choose.

Ensure SGM cultural humility training is required for all staff and clinicians. 

Adapted from Alpert AB, Scout NFN, Schabath MB, et al: Gender- and sexual orientation-based inequities: Promoting inclusion, visibility, and data accuracy in oncology. Am Soc Clin Oncol Educ Book 42:1-17, 2022.


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