Some people are more at risk of developing cancer than others. Although it can be a scary subject, it should be something that is talked about openly, as checking for cancer can save lives. If you are part of the LGBTQ+ community, you may be more at risk of developing cancer, but don’t worry. There are things you can do to reduce your risks of developing cancer and keep yourself safe. Here’s what you need to know about preventing cancer.
Get a good, LGBTQ+ friendly doctor
If you are worried about cancer or believe that you may have put yourself at risk, you need to find a doctor that is not only aware of LGBTQ communities but is also non-judgmental. No matter who you are, there are some healthcare professionals you do not feel safe or comfortable in confiding in.
If you have a great doctor and a safe space to go if you are in need of healthcare, you are more likely to focus on your health. This includes being able to disclose your gender and sexuality. Your doctor should know your gender identity and sexual orientation, as this is important for screening exams.
Keep on top of your healthcare
The earlier you catch cancer, the more likely that your prognosis will be a good one. Getting regular scans, such as CT or MRI scans, can put your mind at rest if you are worried or at risk of cancer. It is a fast and painless way to be checked over by a medical professional. Ezra’s article answers questions such as how accurate is a CT scan for cancer, and how a CT scan can detect cancer. Ezra offer private CT scans if you want peace of mind. The earlier you get tested if you have any worries, the quicker any potential problems can be caught.
Hormones can make a difference
You are more likely to be at risk of cancer if you take hormones as part of gender transition, or for any other reason. Your doctor should discuss all this with you before you start treatment and it is important to keep an eye out for any signs or symptoms of cancer.
This is another reason a good doctor that you feel comfortable talking to is essential. If you are a trans man and have not gone through surgery yet, your doctor needs to know you were born a female. This ensures no symptoms are overlooked for cancers relating just to the female anatomy, like uterine cancer.
Some vaccines can help reduce the risk of cancers, such as the Hepatitis B and HPV vaccine. Hepatitis B can cause liver cancer and is more common in men who have sex with men, so it is important to get a vaccine. HPV (human papillomavirus) is one of the most common STDs and can be linked to penile, anal, and cervical cancers. This virus can be caught through sexual contact and cannot be stopped by condoms, as HPV lives on your skin.
Most of the time, the body can fight HPV on its own and nothing develops. If the virus stays on your skin for too long, it can cause cell changes which lead to cancer. Everybody is a risk of getting HPV, but you may be more likely to get it if you are a gay man. If you are unvaccinated, speak to your doctor who can help you get a Hepatitis B and HPV vaccine.
Smoking is one of the leading causes of cancer, so if you want to reduce your risk of cancer, now is the perfect time to quit. Stopping smoking is no easy task and isn’t something that should be taken lightly. It is best to get help from a healthcare professional, as they can provide smoking cessation advice. You may find it easier to quit with the help of medication. If you also struggle with mental health, counselling can help you to quit while reducing the risk of becoming anxious or depressed.
If you drink most days or binge drink, you are putting your body at risk of developing cancer, especially of the liver. Your liver is responsible for breaking down alcohol so it can be expelled from your body. Overuse of your liver can cause liver damage, which can cause other health issues, such as heart disease and cancer. Drinking too much alcohol can also lead to mental health issues, alcohol dependency, and weight gain.
Maintain a healthy weight
The more overweight you are, the higher your risk of diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. This is because the extra weight in your body causes inflammation, which could lead to cancer. It can also affect your hormones, which is another reason that cancer can form. It can be difficult to maintain a healthy weight and the biggest battle starts from within. Once you find happiness in yourself, you are more likely to want to work hard and care for your body.
Try to eat less meat and more plant-based foods, such as wholegrains, fruits, beans, and vegetables. When you do consume meat, eat lean meat such as chicken or turkey breasts. Everything is good in moderation, so find a way to still enjoy food while making heathier choices. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise, five days a week, even if this is just a brisk walk around your local park. You may even want to find an LGBTQ friendly gym or exercise class. This can lead to a sense of community and belonging, which can help with weight loss.
As a member of the LGBTQ community, you should feel safe and comfortable requesting healthcare. This is essential if you want to stay safe and help prevent any risk of cancer. Changing your lifestyle and cutting out smoking or minimising alcohol use can also help. Get vaccinated if you haven’t already and consider dietary changes to maintain a healthy weight and help prevent cancer.