October 1-31 is breast cancer awareness month. Research shows that Transgender persons are also at risk of Breast cancer. Hostile laws which criminalise transgender person fuel discrimination, ignorance about trans issues as well as prejudices amongst medical personnel. This makes it hard for transgender persons to openly or comfortably access health services. However, it is important that transgender individuals are aware that breast cancer is a reality that affects everyone. Below are some facts about breast cancer and how one can limit risks.
Risk factors for breast cancer
• 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
• 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 and
Accepted breast cancer screening guidelines for transgender people are:
• Annual chest/breast examination and regular screening mammography for MTFs who have taken estrogen/progestin, are age 50+, and have other potential risk factors for breast cancer like family history and a high body mass index.
• Annual chest/breast examination and regular screening mammography for FTMs age 50+ who have not had chest surgery.
One can all limit their breast cancer risk by doing monthly self-examination, stopping smoking, avoiding second-hand smoke, limiting alcohol and following a healthy diet and lifestyle