With New Initiatives, Mary Bird Perkins Focuses on Increased Cancer Outreach & Screening for LGBTQ+ Community

BATON ROUGE, La. –Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center has announced two initiatives aimed at educating the LGBTQ+ community about cancer risks and improving cancer screening rates.

Over the coming months, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center will engage in two grant-funded programs focused on providing cancer education and outreach to the Capital Region’s LGBTQ+ community.

The Prevent Cancer Foundation, a national non-profit organization dedicated solely to cancer prevention and early detection, has granted Mary Bird Perkins $25,000 to launch a supplemental mobile cancer screening and education program for the region’s LGBTQ+ community in particular for breast and colorectal cancers. The program will consist of culturally-competent outreach and education, no-cost cancer screening, and patient navigation for those with abnormal findings. A key component of this work will include providing trainings encouraging Baton Rouge’s local LGBTQ+ community to be mindful of recommended cancer and preventive health screenings.

A second organization, the Preparedness and Treatment Equity Coalition (PTEC), has provided the cancer center with $50,000 to establish a culturally-appropriate and inclusive data collection system to better assess individuals and ultimately develop tailored educational materials to increase the rate of cancer screening.

“At Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, our doors are open to everyone in our community,” said Renea Duffin, vice president, cancer support and outreach, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center. “And we believe, to our core, that every person, no matter one’s gender identity or sexual orientation, deserves to be treated with compassionate care and respect.”

In Louisiana, the LGBTQ+ community, like other vulnerable and underserved populations, faces a variety of challenges when it comes to accessing culturally-competent healthcare services – including access to preventative cancer screenings. Aside from encountering barriers to access, this community also suffers disproportionately from trauma and other societal stressors that can lead to unhealthy lifestyles or behaviors, such as smoking or vaping and alcohol use – both of which are known cancer risks.

“In so many ways, our LGBTQ+ community deserves to be uplifted and supported, especially when it comes to cancer care,” said Duffin. “Early detection is the best and most effective way to improve cancer treatment outcomes. With these new grant programs, we know that we can help make a difference and ultimately save lives.”

Mary Bird Perkins will take part in Baton Rouge’s upcoming Pride Festival on June 24. Staff members will be on hand to provide educational materials and resources.

“We are thrilled to have Mary Bird Perkins participate in this year’s festival, a safe space for many to have their cancer concerns and questions answered,” said Bobbi Wisekal, PharmD, president, Baton Rouge Pride. “By addressing barriers within the LGBTQ+ community, through early detection and prevention education, the Cancer Center is taking concrete action to bridge the gap and equitably improve the health of Baton Rouge.”

Members of the LGBTQ+ community are encouraged to attend an upcoming Cancer Center screening event. Open to the public, skin, prostate, colorectal and oral cancer screenings will be available July 25 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the Unitarian Church of Baton Rouge, 8470 Goodwood Blvd. Appointments are required, visit marybird.org/get-screened or call (225) 215-1234 to reserve your time.


About Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center
Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center is a regional cancer care organization that has been fighting cancer for more than 50 years. The cancer care organization provides care at 10 centers in Baton Rouge, Covington, Gonzales, Hammond, Houma, Opelousas, Slidell, and Natchez, Mississippi, and its service area encompasses southeast Louisiana and southwest Mississippi regions. Mary Bird Perkins has a strategic affiliation with OneOncology and the largest radiation and medical oncology groups from across the area including exclusive partnerships with Southeastern Louisiana Radiation Oncology Group, which provides radiation therapy throughout Mary Bird Perkins’ service areas, Northshore Oncology Associates, serving St. Tammany and Washington Parishes, specifically the communities of Covington and Slidell and Louisiana Hematology Oncology Associates, which services the Greater Baton Rouge area. For more information, please visit www.marybird.org.