Openness about identity as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and other sexual orientations and gender identities (LGBTQ+) may cause strain on relationships between family members, which could lead to limited knowledge of cancer family history and reduced communication with family members. As a result, members of the LGBTQ+ community may have more difficulty accessing genetic counseling services for inherited cancer risk. We applied a mixed-methods approach to explore potential barriers to knowledge of cancer family history and family communication among participants of the Cancer Health Assessments Reaching Many (CHARM) study who self-identified as LGBTQ+. We assessed perceptions of family functioning and communication of genetic test results to family members using survey tools and supplemented these data with 20 in-depth interviews to further assess participant perspectives and experiences. LGBTQ+ participants were more likely to report unhealthy family functioning on the survey tool, and some interviewees endorsed that openness about their LGBTQ+ identity led to strained family relationships and reduced communication about their family history of cancer. Overall, this study identified barriers that may be faced by members of the LGBTQ+ community which could limit their ability to access genetic counseling services for inherited cancer risk.
Keywords: Cultural competence; LGBTQ+; family history; genetic counseling; hereditary cancer; risk assessment.
© 2021 National Society of Genetic Counselors.