Transgender/Transexual Breast Cancer

By on Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

Cancer Disparities:
Breast Cancer:
· There are no studies of the incidence of breast cancer in transsexual or transgender
individuals. There have been only three documented cases of breast cancer in this population,
but that is likely a significant underestimate, given the hesitance of many transgender
individuals to reveal their transsexualism to their physicians.
· Onset of breast cancer would most likely occur after a male-to-female (MtF) transgender
individual has undergone hormone replacement therapy (HRT), inferring from the recent
increase of non-transgender women having a higher incidence of breast cancer after five
years of HRT.
· Excessive testosterone in men (either female-to-male [FtM] or non-transsexual men) can be
converted into estrogen, which may lead to increased risk for estrogen-induced health
problems, including breast cancer.
· FtM individuals often feel disassociated from their breasts, and as such, may be hesitant to
perform breast self-exams, one of the most effective means to detect breast cancer.
· Even after sexual reassignment surgery such as chest reconstruction, FtM transsexuals may
still be at risk for breast cancer because breast muscle wall tissue remains. Breast tissue cells
may be present in the nipple area as well as throughout the chest area, elevating the risk of
developing breast cancer4.


  1. Karlyn Lotney says:


    I am an FTM breast cancer survivor. I’m pretty sure that I’m not counted among the aforementioned three TG breast cancer survivors. I’ve never met or even heard of another FTM bc survivor. I have been on and off testosterone since 2000. I have a family history of breast cancer. I was diagnosed in May, 2006, and had a total bilateral mastectomy July 6th, five years ago today! I have yet to have revision surgery and I really need it as there is still breast tissue under my arms. At any rate, the surgery had the silver lining for me of removing my (enormous) breasts, though of course, I wished it would have come about a different way.

    I am an Ashkenazi Jew and thus I am at high risk not only for breast cancer, but for ovarian cancer as well. Likewise, not having ovaries halves the chances for breast cancer reocurence. Also, I was bleeding through a full T dose. Consequently, I was offered a medically-necessary total hysto and went through with it in September, 2009.

    I had tremendous complications, including two pulmonary embouli and pneumonia, and was in intensive care for 9 days. Nonetheless, I was able to find the silver lining in this situation as well, since getting rid of my ovaries and their estrogen not only stopped the bleeding, but improved my mood and emotional stability to a great degree. Incidentally, restarting T is what greatly ameliorated my severe intransigent depression.

    So, T keeps me from being suicidally depressed, the removal of my ovaries further brightens and stabilizes my mood, and cancer facilitated the removal of my breasts.

    I’d say that someone with a great deal of power wants very much for me to be, or at least, look, like a man.

  2. Michelle Helms says:

    Karlyn, I am sorry to hear about your difficulties but am glad that you have had a positive outcome. I began my own MTF transition almost 3 years ago. I am pleased with my result thus far but am having difficulties obtaining insurance coverage for typically female routine procedures for a 53 yr old. I will be filing an appeal in the coming days to see if I can persuade BCBS to accept that I need to be viewed (at least medically) as a woman. I hope you read this and that you are well.

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  4. Vivienne Biondo says:

    I am a M-F Transssexual of 64 years, awaiting srs, on Oestrogel, oestragen 100 patches and anti androgens, for the past 3 years. My breasts always hurt, on rising in the morning or getting up from a chair. I don’t wear a bra, though there is significant growth. Is this normal or an indicator of cancer?. My mother had breast cancer,

  5. LGBT Cancer says:

    Thanks for your question. Sounds like you are wondering if your Mom’s legacy of breast cancer has affected you. Really, the best thing you can do is ask the doctors whom you trust. Sounds like you are already taking great steps towards living your life, and all of us at the National LGBT Cancer Project, which you a very long and love filled life. The best thing we can do is encourage you to speak to your doctor(s).

  6. LGBT Cancer says:

    Yes, very soon indeed.

  7. Mac Girl says:

    I am an M2F 40-something. On estrogen valerate (injectable) for 3 yrs, oral estrogen prior to that for 4 yrs. I switched to injectable since there’s less incidence of heart disease as compared to oral delivered. I have stable angina due to a congenital defect so the injectable estrogen is better for my situation. I had a mammogram in 2/2014 which came back unremarkable. I was doing a self-exam on myself after receiving the results. I found a 1-2cm mass in my breast and mentioned this to my doctor. He ordered a follow up mammo + ultrasound study. They ended up doing a biopsy the same day. I won’t know the results until next week as the weekend is coming up. I’m fairly confident of a negative outcome since there’s no history of breast cancer in my family. Still, I have some anxiety about it since HRT does somewhat increase the incidence of breast cancer.

    I highly recommend doing self-exams monthly. Read up on the risk factors of increased incidence and make your choices accordingly. Multiple tests for screening is better than just one test. A self-exam + diagnostic test is much better than either of them alone. Consult with your medical doctor on your breast health for accurate information.

  8. KC says:

    I was diagnosed last August with an aggressive triple negative breast cancer, found the lump end of April, but thanks to my GP and breast consultant, because I’m a M2F I was made to wait 13 weeks to see the consultant, was told couldn’t possibly be cancer, as was in terrible pain and rang the hospital every week begging to be seen. Was fobbed off, told that I was urgent after weeks of phoning and back and forth to the GP and still didn’t get seen for 13 weeks. Was told on date of the ultrasound and biopsy it was cancer and the surgeon who fobbed me off said “what do you expect you’ve been hammering your body for years with estrogen”. Well it wasn’t caused by hormones as was a 22 mm grade 3, triple negative breast cancer. Will never trust another doctor ever again, I’ve been let down from day one in transition back in 1992.

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