Doctors’ assumptions on sex heighten lesbians’ cervical cancer risk: study

Lesbians may be at higher risk of cervical cancer because they get fewer screenings than heterosexual women, due partly to doctors’ sometimes incorrect assumptions about their sexual history, University of Washington researchers said on Tuesday. Although nearly all cases of cervical cancer are attributable to a human papillomavirus, or HPV, infection, healthcare providers often do not encourage lesbian patients to get regular HPV screenings, the researchers found. A lack of testing can also occur at times because lesbians lack insurance or do not always have a need for pregnancy prevention checkups, or may not want to share their sexual orientation with doctors, the researchers said. “If we are serious about reducing the rates of cervical cancer in lesbians, an unbiased health assessment by a provider must ask the question: ‘Do you have sex with men, women or both?’” University of Washington School of Nursing professor Joachim Voss said in a statement.
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