Skip to navigation Skip to main content Skip to footer

Approved research

Cancer risk and cancer outcomes among sexual minorities compared with heterosexual men and women

Principal Investigator: Dr Catherine Saunders
Approved Research ID: 42861
Approval date: October 16th 2018

Lay summary

Aims The aim of this research is to describe patterns of cancer risks among people from people from sexual minorities and to understand what happens after cancer has been diagnosed. Scientific rationale To date, information on cancer risks and cancer outcomes (for example whether someone is diagnosed at an earlier, more treatable stage, or whether their treatment is successful) among people from sexual minorities is limited, despite the existence of some evidence of inequalities. NHS strategy documents focusing on inequalities only include minimal detail on sexual minorities. In addition a leading UK Cancer Charity, MacMillan Cancer Support, have highlighted this lack of data on cancer among sexual minorities, and in the US the American Society for Clinical Oncology have also recently highlighted the need for better understanding of cancer outcomes among sexual minorities. This research will address this need for evidence; it will also allow us to replicate a previous study in an independent data set to improve the scientific rigour of the work that we have already done. Project duration We are proposing several linked analyses, starting with a piece of methodological work to understand how best to use sexual behaviour responses in the baseline survey in our further analyses; we therefore expect this analysis to take up to 36 months to complete all phases. Public health impact This research will provide evidence to improve the measurement and monitoring of inequalities in cancer risks and outcomes among sexual minorities. It will also support the development of appropriate methodological approaches for researchers and policymakers. Finally the work will support the development of the most appropriate applied approaches to addressing these disparities.

Scope extension:

To describe and compare patterns of cancer risk and cancer outcomes among men and women, by sexual behaviour history, using sexual behaviour and lifestyle risk factors from the Biobank baseline assessment, linked to cancer registry data, specifically considering the following measures. The patterns of participant exposure to  major cancer risk factors (including smoking, alcohol use, physical activity, diet, obesity, age at first sexual intercourse, number of sexual partners, and parity) by sexual behaviour group; also, cancer prevalence, cancer incidence, cancer stage at diagnosis and cancer survival by sexual behaviour.

In addition, to describe the responses to the sexual behaviour history questions among men and women separately, specifically the responses to the questions about history of sex with men or women, and numbers of partners, which were asked at the Biobank Baseline Assessment interview, and to compare these responses to responses from the third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (NATSAL-3), and explore how to use UK Biobank in future research to explore disparities in health outcomes experienced by sexual minority adults.