Cancer screening rates too low among LGBTQ communities

20 June 2014

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Effective July 1, 2014, the Canadian Cancer Society will provide long-term support and funding to Get Screened, a health promotion initiative that increases awareness, knowledge and positive attitudes towards cancer screening and combats low screening rates among LGBTQ communities.

Get Screened was funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada for two years and focused primarily on Toronto, Ottawa and Hamilton. Led by the Society, the program trained volunteers from LGBTQ communities to engage friends, families, colleagues and social networks in conversations about colon, breast and cervical cancer screening in order to increase screening rates.

“We work directly with the LGBTQ communities and train local volunteers who deliver important screening messages, help develop resources that are culturally appropriate and become part of committees that help shape the program,” says Susan Flynn, Screening Saves Lives Manager at the Canadian Cancer Society. “Because of its grassroots nature, Get Screened succeeds in getting information to those communities in ways that other health organizations are not always able to do, by reaching out to those who are more comfortable talking to peers they recognize and trust.”

The promising results of the Get Screened pilot and the overwhelmingly positive feedback from the LGBTQ community were two decisive factors in the Canadian Cancer Society’s decision to fund the program once external funding ceased. Since June 2013, close to 300 Canadian Cancer Society volunteers and staff have been trained and thousands of Ontarians have received lifesaving cancer screening information through one-on-one conversations, presentations, training sessions and materials.

“The demand and need for the program is here,” says Dr Ed Kucharski, Regional Primary Care Lead for the Toronto Regional Cancer Program and member of the Get Screened steering committee. As part of the committee, Ed provides input into the development of resources, such as healthcare provider training and screening information for transgender communities. “Now we are looking to the LGBTQ community to help us expand the program across Ontario by becoming a health ambassador and participating in our events that will fund this lifesaving initiative.”

Get involved with Get Screened. Visit cancer.ca/getscreened to find out how you can help.

About the Canadian Cancer Society

The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer. To find out more about cancer, visit www.cancer.ca or call our Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

For further information or to book an interview opportunity, please contact:

Gabrielle Scheliga
Canadian Cancer Society
416-323-7038
gscheliga@ontario.cancer.ca