Four Things Every Transgender Person Needs to Know About Breast Cancer
As we celebrate Pride Month and recognize the contributions of our LGBT+ peers, it is also an important time to educate yourself on the resources available to you to evaluate your current health. When compared to cisgender people, the transgender community faces higher rates of health disparities due to discrimination. According to CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data, 54% of transgender adults report having poor physical health at least one day in a given month compared to 36% of cisgender adults.
Early prevention is key when it comes to cancer care, for the best possible recovery outcomes. Many members of the transgender community do not realize that they are still at risk for breast cancer, even after they begin transitioning. The team at Pink Hub would like to share four facts you should be aware of to lessen the risk of breast cancer as a transgender individual. ￼
Information Needed to Navigate Breast Cancer as a Transgender Male or Female:
1. Trans men who have not undergone a mastectomy need to be screened. If you are a trans male, discussions of breast cancer may be a source of discomfort because it brings focus to an area of the body that conflicts with your gender identity. But, all men, including trans men are at risk of breast cancer. Trans men above the age of 50 should get a monogram screening done every two years.
2. Gender-affirming hormones can increase the risk of breast cancer for trans women. If you are currently taking estrogen, you are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer. If taking gender-affirming hormones for more than five years, Breastcancer.org shares the recommendation that trans women get screened with a mammography every two years.
3. How to conduct self-check breast exams. Both trans men and women should be routinely conducting self-check breast exams. Even trans men who have had gender-affirming top surgery should be monitoring their chest area for any irregularities. When doing a self-exam, you should be looking in the mirror for lumps, swelling, dimpling, pain, discharge, and other forms of irritation. If you do notice any irregularities in your breasts or chest tissue, you should consult your doctor right away.
4. Learn to be your own advocate. Although the fear of experiencing transphobia in a medical setting is valid, doctor visits and routine screenings should never be delayed. To combat the discrimination that exists in the medical realm, relationships and trust must be built. There are many doctors who will genuinely listen to your concerns while respecting your gender identity. If you ever feel uncomfortable with a medical provider, don’t be shy about switching to a doctor that is right for you.
Nobody should have to fight breast cancer alone or face discrimination along the way. Every individual’s breast cancer journey is unique and staying informed is the best way to ensure that you are receiving the best treatment possible. To find an oncologist who is an LGBTQ+ ally, visit the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association’s searchable provider guide. For more general educational resources and tips regarding the breast cancer journey from diagnosis to remission, please follow us on Facebook and Instagram.