A researcher who is examining the experience of breast cancer amongst lesbian and bisexual women is urging those affected to come forward and take part.
Dr Julie Fish from De Montfort University (DMU) in Leicester is looking for lesbian and bisexual women who have, or have had breast cancer to take part in the study, the first of its kind in the UK.
The study will investigate the experiences and attitudes of breast cancer sufferers, knowledge and beliefs of breast cancer, views of factors which may increase risk and the sources of information and support available.
The research is aiming to promote better understanding about lesbian and bisexual women's experiences of breast cancer and the findings will inform policy development.
Recommendations will also be made to cancer organisations and other facilities to help improve services.
Dr Fish has extensive experience as a researcher in this area and has recently conducted a national project with Stonewall, the UK Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual lobbying organisation, which looked at lesbian and bisexual women's health and social care needs.
She was also a steering group member for Sexualities Matter, a research project in health and social care for lesbian, gay and bisexual communities in Leicester.
Dr Fish said: "Legislation introduced in 2007 now means that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people can expect the same standard of healthcare treatment as everybody else.
"As a result there is now an increased interest amongst service providers to make facilities accessible for hard to reach groups, including lesbian and bisexual women.
"Currently little is known about breast cancer amongst this group of women and they seem to have been overlooked in health information and cancer services.
"This study is important because previous research in the US has suggested that breast cancer may be more prevalent in lesbian and bisexual women; there are a number of factors, including the lesser likelihood of having children.
"I am hoping that this study will help shed some light on the experiences of breast cancer amongst lesbian and bisexual women and that it will contribute to helping provide a high standard of healthcare to people in this group."
The research is funded by the NHS Cancer Action Team, a national team that facilitates the implementation of the NHS Cancer Plan and works closely with the Department of Health, Strategic Health Authorities and various cancer networks and charities.
Carole Gibbons, User Support and Involvement Projects Co-ordinator, at Macmillan Cancer Voices, said: "Cancer doesn't discriminate, it affects us all.
"No matter what community you come from or what type of cancer you have, we all deserve flexible, responsive treatment and care which meets our needs, respects our lifestyle and includes the people close to us."
The study will also be overseen by a steering group representing three communities of interest: cancer charities, lesbian and bisexual women's voluntary organisations and women with experience of breast cancer.
De Montfort University