The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh has joined a coalition of clinicians and charities, which is making an open commitment to improve education and awareness of the care needs of LGBTQ+ patients with cancer.

A statement released today by the Joint Collegiate Council for Oncology and the Association of Cancer Physicians (ACP) outlines the need for better understanding of the requirements of patients from Sexual and Gender Minority groups and commits to 10 actions to improve the cancer care community’s understanding, oversight and inclusion of these groups.

The actions range across medical education, patient monitoring, research and inclusion, to be promoted and pursued by medical Royal Colleges, their members and the wider clinical community.

Commitments include integrating the care needs of LGBTQ+ patients into workforce training and assessment and producing ongoing educational materials, supporting the monitoring and audit of LGBTQ+ cancer patient care and encouraging inclusion of these patients in clinical trial development and recruitment.  

The statement, timed to mark Pride Month, has been endorsed by the College plus a host of expert professional bodies, including the UK Oncology Nursing Society, the Royal College of Radiologists, the Royal College of Physicians of London and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, who agree to help enact commitments.

LGBTQ+ support groups backing the statement include Switchboard, Stonewall, Live Through This and the LGBT Foundation. Cancer Research UK and the Teenage Cancer Trust are also supporting the statement.    

The RCR, RCPL and ACP began work on the commitments following a 2019 study of non-surgical cancer doctors about their knowledge of, and attitudes to, LGBTQ+ patients1.

The study found that while most clinicians felt comfortable treating LGBTQ+ patients, there were low rates of routine enquiry about sexual orientation (5%), gender identity (3%) and preferred pronoun use (2%).

Respondents openly asked for more education and training around LGBTQ+ healthcare, with 68% saying LGBTQ+ healthcare needs should be a mandatory part of postgraduate medical training.

Dr Conor Maguire,  RCPE Vice President (International) and Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity Group Chair, said:

We are delighted to endorse this commitment to ensuring that anyone with a cancer diagnosis receives equality and dignity in the care they receive throughout their journey. This should be regardless of a person’s gender, sexuality or beliefs. Improving awareness of the requirements of LGBTQ+ cancer patients through education and consultation is to be welcomed and encouraged.

Dr Alison Berner is a medical oncologist with a special interest in gender identity. She is an ACP and RCPL member and has been the lead author on the position statement. Commenting on the community’s aims to improve clinical awareness and drive down health inequalities for LGBTQ+ patients, Dr Berner said:

LGBTQ+ communities continue to experience inequalities in their cancer journey with regard to screening and diagnosis, clinical care, communication and overall experience. Much of this stems from a lack of education and cultural humility by provider organisations, which results in the assumption that equal care means equitable care.

I hope these commitments will be the start of a sea-change that prioritises individual patient needs in cancer care, to provide true personalised medicine, and improve outcomes not only for LGBTQ+ patients, but all minority groups.

Dr Hannah Tharmalingam, RCR Vice President for Clinical Oncology, added:

We are exceptionally proud to be collaborators on this statement of intent to improve the care of LGBTQ+ patients with cancer, which exemplifies the considerable strides made in this space in recent times.

The RCR recognises the critical importance of following through on this pledge and is committed to leading on its actions.

We look forward to working with fellow organisations and the wider cancer care community to reach our goal of equitable care for all of our patients.




Notes to Editors


The Joint Collegiate Council for Oncology is an advisory group established between The Royal College of Radiologists and the Royal College of Physicians of London. It guides the Colleges on matters relating to service needs, education, staffing and resources for treatment of cancer, and helps to produce specialist input and coordinated responses to consultations and matters relating to cancer treatment, prevention and research. Its membership also includes representatives from the Royal College of Pathologists and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and the Children's Cancer and Leukaemia Group.

Paul Gillen

Contact: Paul Gillen 0131 247 3658