One Iowa

The Importance of Breast/Chest Cancer Screenings in the Transgender Community

Often overlooked in the conversation around breast cancer is the importance for Transgender folks to get regular breast cancer screenings. Typically, breast cancer awareness is thought of as a “women’s health issue.”

However, at One Iowa, we know that breast cancer impacts people of all genders. Often, members of the Transgender community don’t feel comfortable getting breast cancer screenings because they face uninclusive providers, uncomfortable dysphoria, or lack of knowledge about the importance of screenings. To approach this topic inclusively, we refer to breast cancer as breast or chest cancer, to include individuals of all genders.

According to Fenway Focus, Transgender people have often excluded from breast and chest cancer awareness information because most information is framed through the lens of cisgender women. Further, they may not get breast/chest cancer screenings because they have undergone gender-affirming surgery to remove some breast/chest tissue (though screening is still needed in this instance) or they might avoid undergoing screenings because breast/chest tissue might trigger intense dysphoria.

They may not perceive the risk of cancer in body parts that are not embraced or have been removed. One Iowa can help find inclusive providers throughout the state that will provide a safe environment for Transgender Iowans for not only breast/chest screenings but for all healthcare visits.

The National Center for Transgender Equality notes that for transgender women, 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/chest tissue.

At the end of the day, regardless of a person’s gender identity, self-examination and early-detection tests can be life-saving. If you are in need of a breast/chest cancer screening, check out the Iowa Department of Public Health’s Care For Yourself Program that provides free to low-cost breast/chest and cervical screenings to Iowans in need.