ACES (Alternative Cervical Screening): Acceptability of a urine self-test for cervical screening in the LGBTQ+ population

Sample tubes on a laboratory bench

Around 215,000 people in Greater Manchester are LGBTQ+, with approximately half eligible for cervical screening. Despite a free and accessible UK cervical screening programme, uptake in the lesbian and bisexual (LB) and transgender male (TM) community is lower than in the heterosexual and/or cisgender female population. Emma Thorpe, Programme Manager, outlines how the LBTM+ ACES project aims to explore the acceptability of a non-invasive, self-taken urine screening test for cervical screening in the LB and TM population, which has the potential to increase the number of individuals screened and narrow the health inequality gap.

The idea to address barriers to cancer prevention and early detection in the LGBTQ+ community was driven by the motivations of Project Managers, Emma Thorpe & Benjamin Heyworth who had begun discussing the potential for research in this area and reached out to Prof. Emma Crosbie for her opinion. Prof Crosbie agreed that urine testing may overcome some of the barriers to cervical screening for some people, introduced us to her clinical fellow Dr Jen Davies-Oliveira and from there the Acceptability project was conceived.

The ACES project is driven by a number of project staff, supporting Dr Davies-Oliveira. Adopting a co-creation approach, we recruited a User Involvement (UI) group and created an Acceptability questionnaire driven by the priorities identified by the UI group.

Emma Thorpe - Project Manager
Having received initial support from Prof. Crosbie I was keen to pursue this research and was thrilled when a MASHC funding call was announced. This project sits perfectly with MAHSC priorities so the team pulled together, drafted the application and were awarded £5000. I am now overseeing delivery of this project, building links with our LGBTQ+ network and hopefully motivating our UI group to get involved in future Cancer PED research

Emma Thorpe

Programme Manager, Cancer Prevention and Early Detection

I contribute to delivering insights and new ideas, support project scoping, and planning. My own research interests include addressing cancer health inequalities and in delivering Patient and Public Involvement across cancer research. I contributed to the coordination of UI recruitment, and collated questionnaire feedback from participants. Working on ACES has helped me to flourish in my project management skills; motivating my further career in cancer research project management.

Rachel Hawkins

Project Coordinator, Cancer Prevention and Early Detection

Having recently submitted the questionnaire study for ethical approval, we are now working with the UI group and stakeholders such as the LGBT Foundation, and local charities including Cancer Awareness in Teens and Twenties (CATTs), to disseminate this questionnaire across the LBTM+ community for completion.  Next steps of the project include running a community engagement event with the aim of bringing the LGBTQ+ community and researchers together to disseminate our findings and engage at the community level with people about cervical screening.

We are proud as Project Managers and Coordinators to have driven this research opportunity and to have pulled together a fantastic team to deliver this novel project.

I can't state highly enough how invaluable the project manager has been to the ACES LBTM+ study. The support, experience and guidance given has been key to the conception, design and implementation of this project.

Professor Emma Crosbie

Professor of Gynaecological Oncology

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