Transgender People and Breast Cancer

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time dedicated to educating the public about breast cancer and raising money for research on the disease’s cause, prevention, and cure.

What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer is a cancerous (malignant) tumor that starts from cells in breast tissue. It is the second most common and deadly cancer for American women. However, many individuals who are diagnosed with breast cancer are able to live long lives because of improvements in screening and treatment.

How does breast cancer affect transgender individuals?

There is not nearly enough research on how transgender people are affected by breast cancer or any other disease but those who work on transgender health note the following:

  • For a transgender woman, the risk of breast cancer increases following breast development and five or more years of hormone therapy.
  • For a transgender man, excessive testosterone can be converted into estrogen by the body, which leads to increased cancer risk. Additionally, transgender men may feel uncomfortable with either self-exams or medical exams, and may not realize that top surgery does not remove all breast tissue. Self-examination is a useful prevention tool that can be life-saving, regardless of a person’s gender.

We strongly encourage you to speak with your doctor about what screening and prevention measures are most appropriate for you and for your body.

What are the risk factors for breast cancer?

Women are more likely than men to have breast cancer; both transgender men and transgender women can be at risk. Besides gender, other risk factors for breast cancer include:

  • Increasing age;
  • A family history of or genetic susceptibility to breast cancer;
  • A history of radiation treatment to the chest wall;
  • A history of breast biopsies;
  • Nulliparity (which means never having been pregnant);
  • Having children after age 30;
  • Beginning menstruation before 12 years of age;
  • Undergoing menopause after 55 years of age;
  • Excessive alcohol consumption;
  • Obesity.

How can I reduce my risk of developing breast cancer?

Even though some risk factors for developing breast cancer cannot be changed, like your family history, you can reduce your risk for breast cancer through healthy eating habits, drinking in moderation, and exercising regularly. Annual mammograms are recommended for those over 50, and some organizations recommend them for those over 40. Monthly breast self-exams may also help to ensure early detection.

Resources

To learn more about breast cancer, please visit the following websites:

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19 Responses to Transgender People and Breast Cancer

  1. Max Vincent says:

    I used to work for the Lesbian Cancer Community Project in Chicago; back in the late ’90s, trans women were wanting to also use the free mammogram services the agency had to offer. You would not believe the squeal that supposedly passed for dialogue at some of the meetings that were held to “decide” whether or not services should be open to all women- LGB and T. I left not long after this became an issue that coudn’t be decided: this wasn’t the only reason I quit the agency, but was a huge contributing factor.

    • Juliekristine says:

      I’ve attended LCCP fundraisers before they got swallowed up my the Howard Brown Center. I hope and trust that this myopic view has changed since the late 90’s. At times, I’ve felt included with women’s health groups and lesbians, and at other times not.

      Since this is a health issue, I would hope that they could rise above their own petty issues towards T men and women’s health.

  2. […] Transgender People and Breast Cancer « National Center for … […]

  3. Stephanie Stevens says:

    Working link …

    American Cancer Society, Transgendered and Transsexual Individuals: Access to Care and Cancer Disparity Fact Sheet

    http://www.glbthealth.org/documents/FactSheetRevised-TransgenderedIndividuals.pdf

  4. Kelsey says:

    We support Breast Cancer @ http://www.quotesforfacebook.net

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  5. Josh says:

    Its good to see the awareness for this very important subject.
    thank you all.

    תיירות גאה

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  11. […] or have been removed or added. But transgender women and men receiving hormone therapy may be at increased risk of breast cancer. Transgender men may not realize that breast tissue may be susceptible to cancer even after chest […]

  12. […] Transgender people especially are at risk of being excluded from breast cancer awareness information—both because our understanding of breast cancer risks for trans people is limited and because most information is framed around the experiences of cisgender women. Transgender people may not perceive risk for cancer in body parts that are not embraced or have been removed or added. But transgender women and men receiving hormone therapy may be at increased risk of breast cancer. […]

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  16. […] women on a hormone regimen of estradiol find themselves at an elevated risk for breast cancer, with risk contingent on how long the individual has been on hormone replacement therapy. […]

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