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Everyone is at risk. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Breast Cancer is often portrayed as a "women's disease." However, everyone is at risk--men, women, transmen, transwomen, pre-op, post-op.  All humans are born with breast tissue and thus at risk of breast cancer. 

The estrogen hormone which causes breast development and often feeds breast cancer is produced by the ovaries and testes.  This same hormone is also produced from other hormones, including testosterone.  In particular, fat cells serve to facilitate the conversion of such hormones into estrogen.

  • Persons with significant amounts of estrogen in their body--whether natural or injected are at significant risk of breast cancer.
  • Persons injecting testosterone may be increasing their risk of breast cancer, since this testosterone may be converted into estrogen.
  • Removal of the ovaries and/or testes decreases risk of breast cancer significantly--but not completely.
  • Removal of the breasts reduces risk of breast cancer significantly--but not completely.
  • People with testes who are not taking any hormonal supplements are still at risk of breast cancer.

Treatable and Beatable

With breast cancer, early diagnosis is key. Stage I breast cancer has a survival rate of nearly 100%.

  • Know Your Body. Get familiar with your own body and know what changes to look for, including lumps, indentation, discharge, change in skin texture or contour.
  • Know Your Risks.  Age is by far the most significant risk factor. Other key risk factors include family history of breast or ovarian cancer, genetic predisposition, obesity, lack of exercise, alcohol use, supplemental hormone use.
  • Be Proactive. Examine your breasts monthly. Consult your doctor if anything seems out of the ordinary. Get regular clinical breast exams and mammograms.

Interactive Tools

Transwomen

Transwomen who take estrogen or estrogen-progestin combinations increase their risk of breast cancer significantly by doing so, depending on the amount taken over the person’s entire life.  For instance, MTFs who started hormones early in life are at greater risk than those who start late in life.

Cases of breast cancer in MTFs taking hormones have been reported. MTFs who have taken estrogen/progestin should do a monthly Breast Self-Examination (BSE).  It is also advisable to schedule an annual chest/breast exam and regular mammograms.

There is no evidence that breast implants increase risk of breast cancer, but MTFs with implants will need to have mammograms done at a diagnostic facility rather than a screening facility (your doctor will refer you).

Meanwhile, transwomen are at risk of cancer even if they are not taking estrogen hormones.  While breast cancer is significantly less common in persons with no ovaries and minimal estrogen (e.g. men), it does occur--and is every bit as deadly if not detected and treated.

Transmen

The risks of breast cancer for transmen depend on hormones and surgery.

  • FTMs who do not take hormones or have surgery have the same risks for breast cancer as non-trans women.
  • There is no clear evidence that testosterone increases or decreases breast cancer risk. However, excessive testosterone can be converted into estrogen, which may lead to increased risk for estrogen-induced health problems, including breast cancer.
  • Chest reconstruction reduces, but does not totally eliminate, the risk of breast cancer, as microscopic breast tissue cells remain even after surgery. Cases of breast cancer in FTMs after chest surgery have been reported.
  • Removal of the ovaries also reduces the risk of breast cancer, but does not eliminate it.

FTM individuals often feel disassociated from their breasts, and as such, may be hesitant to perform breast self-exams.  However, breast exams are one of the most effective means to detect breast cancer

Intersex

Intersex persons who have natural breast development (e.g. Klinefelter's Syndrome) are at the same risk for breast cancer as non-trans women.  Intersex persons taking hormones (male or female) are also at increased risk for breast cancer.

Non-Trans Folks

Women are 100 times more likely to have breast cancer than men.  However, male breast cancer exists and it kills -- especially since it is less likely to be detected early. Men make up about 2% of breast cancer cases (1 in 100,000). One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime.

Survival rates for men are comparable to those of women, based on the stage of the cancer at diagnosis.  However, men are often diagnosed at a much later stage.  With early diagnosis, breast cancer is treatable and beatable.

    Highlighted Resources:

    More LGBT Cancer Resources

    National LGBT Cancer Network: http://www.cancer-network.org/

    Out With Cancer: www.outwithcancer.com

    LGBT Cancer Survivor Program: lgbtcancer.com

    Christian Lesbians Out Together (CLOUT) is a proud sponsor of TransFaith's 2008 Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  CLOUT is a sisterhood of female-identified, same-gender loving mujeristas, womanists, and feminists from all Christian backgrounds.  TransLesbians are welcome! 

    CLOUT is planning an event on Lesbian Health issues.  Sign-up for our mailing list to find out the latest developments.

    http://www.cloutsisters.org/

     

    Disclaimer: The information provided through TransFaith InterSections is intended to help educate transgender people and our allies about transgender health concerns. The information provided is general in nature and is not intended to be used for the diagnosis or treatment of a health problem or as a substitute for consulting a licensed medical professional. If you suspect you have a disease or health-related condition of any kind, you should contact your health care professional immediately. Feedback, suggestions, and corrections are welcome. Please contact us by email or by phone (215-840-2858)!

     

    Christian Lesbians Out Together (CLOUT)
    is a proud sponsor of TransFaith's 2008 Breast Cancer Awareness Month.