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Unmasking Cancer as a Consequence of Human Trafficking: A Multidisciplinary Challenge

By Barbara Moynihan, Ph.D., A.P.R.N., B.C., A.F.N., F.A.A.N., and Katherine Olive M.H.S.A., B.S.N., R.N.

Cancer InCytes Magazine - Volume 3, Issue 2, Winter 2014

Managing Editor: Matt Kaku, M.S.


This article will focus on the development of cancer as a potential consequence of human trafficking. Various subtle sequelae of trafficking, such as the insidious development of cancer, may not be seen until well after the victim has been freed. There are a myriad of factors that contribute to missed or inadequate health care for victims and survivors of human trafficking. These health care needs (both medical as well as mental health) may be overlooked until many months or years post-trafficking.

We will address the risk factors consistent with human trafficking that should be considered by health care professionals who are caring for identified victims or survivors of trafficking. Screening for cancer of the rectum, uterus, lungs, throat, blood or immune system might not be routinely conducted or considered by the medical provider. Rigorous, focused assessment and screening need to be performed once consent to a physical examination has been obtained.

Trafficking victims may have been exposed to noxious or addictive substances in order to reduce their resistance. Other health issues that can also contribute to the development of cancer are forced abortions, dental injuries, genital trauma as well as predicted suppression of the immune system rendering the victim unable to resist or overcome these conditions.

The authors hope to achieve two essential outcomes: raising the reader’s consciousness considering cancer as a potential consequence of human trafficking; and developing appropriate screening tools to identify immediate and long-term effects of this egregious human rights violation.

Read the full article at:

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