Follow-up surveillance among colorectal cancer survivors of different sexual orientations

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences

Publication Date


Document Type



Digestive System Diseases | Epidemiology | Gender and Sexuality | Health Services Research | Neoplasms


PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to examine receipt of follow-up surveillance among sexual minority and heterosexual survivors and identify survivor-, physician-, and practice-level characteristics associated with follow-up surveillance.

METHODS: An average of 3 years after their stage I-III colorectal cancer diagnosis, we recruited survivors from four cancer registries. A questionnaire, which queried about sexual orientation and other eligibility criteria, was mailed to all cancer survivors. Subsequently, 418 eligible survivors without recurrent disease participated in a telephone survey. Colorectal cancer-specific follow-up surveillance was defined as colonoscopy, carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) test, or imaging test. We used logistic regression with forward selection to obtain models that best explained each follow-up test.

RESULTS: About 10% of survivors received no follow-up surveillance, while 70% had colonoscopies. While survivors irrespective of sexual orientation received follow-up surveillance, sexual minority survivors had 3 times the odds of receiving imaging tests compared to heterosexual survivors. Having a designated provider of any specialty was most salient for the receipt of surveillance.

CONCLUSIONS: Sexual minority survivors' greater receipt of imaging tests may indicate providers perceive them at greater risk for recurrence than heterosexual survivors. Future studies need to examine provider behaviors towards monitoring colorectal cancer survivors of diverse sexual orientations.

IMPLICATIONS FOR CANCER SURVIVORS: Guidelines recommend surveillance of colorectal cancer survivors to improve survival. This study showed that having a designated provider for follow-up is most salient for the receipt of surveillance, most survivors receive surveillance, and sexual minority survivors had more imaging tests compared to heterosexual survivors.


Cancer survivorship, Colorectal neoplasms, Quality of care, Sexual and gender minorities, Surveillance

DOI of Published Version



Boehmer U, Potter J, Clark MA, Winter M, Berklein F, Ceballos RM, Hartshorn K, Ozonoff A. Follow-up surveillance among colorectal cancer survivors of different sexual orientations. J Cancer Surviv. 2021 Apr 14:10.1007/s11764-021-01039-1. doi: 10.1007/s11764-021-01039-1. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33851339; PMCID: PMC8531882. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of cancer survivorship : research and practice

PubMed ID


Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed