Healthy Living

One Transgender Man’s Story of Getting Breast Cancer

Breast cancer care for transgender individuals

It is advised that transgender women who are over the age of 50 and have undergone hormone replacement therapy for 5+ years should undergo a mammogram once a year. Transgender men over the age of 50 who have not had chest reconstructive surgery should also undergo a mammogram once a year.

On the other hand, transgender men who have undergone chest reconstruction should be aware of any bodily changes as remaining breast tissue is still prone to breast cancer. Moreover, those who are taking testosterone may be at an increased risk of breast cancer. This is due to the fact that exposure of testosterone buildup in the body has the ability to convert into estrogen. In turn, high estrogen levels increase the risk of breast cancer. Transgender individuals who are at risk of family history or personal history of breast cancer should consider performing mammograms earlier and more often. “We find that transgender men and women may feel uncomfortable with self-exams or medical exams, and therefore do not do them. They also assume that their chances of developing breast cancer are eliminated with surgery. But surgery does not remove all breast tissue.This is why self-examination as a detection tool can be life-saving, regardless of a person’s gender” says Edward Sibanda, Programme Coordinator for the Global Fund Programme at Right to Care.

Still, the best way to protect oneself from breast cancer (or any other type of cancer for that matter) is early detection. The sooner that breast cancer is detected, the easier it is to treat.