Nav: Home

Study shows increased risk of breast cancer in transgender women

May 14, 2019

Transgender women (male sex assigned at birth, female gender identity) using hormone treatment show an increased risk of breast cancer compared with the general male population, finds a large Dutch study published by The BMJ today.

The findings also show that transgender men (female sex assigned at birth, male gender identity) had a lower risk compared with the general female population.

Although the risk in transgender women increased during a relatively short duration of hormone treatment, it is still lower than the general female population.

As such, the researchers say the absolute risk of breast cancer in transgender people remains lower that in the general female population, and therefore current breast cancer screening guidelines are sufficient for transgender people using hormone treatment.

Transgender people experience an incongruence between the sex assigned to them at birth and their experienced or expressed gender, and can receive hormone treatment to induce desired physical changes.

Previous studies have shown that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) increases the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women, which could suggest a similarly increased risk in trans women receiving hormone treatment. But information about the risk of breast cancer in transgender people is currently limited.

So a research team, led by Professor Martin den Heijer at the University Medical Centre in Amsterdam, investigated the incidence and characteristics of breast cancer in transgender people receiving hormone treatment, compared with the general Dutch population.

The study included 2,260 trans women and 1,229 trans men receiving gender affirming hormone treatment at a specialist clinic in Amsterdam between 1972 and 2016. National medical records were used to identify breast cancer cases.

Average age at the start of hormone treatment was 31 years for trans women and 23 for trans men. Average treatment time was 13 years for trans women and 8 years for trans men.

Of the 2,260 trans women, 15 cases of invasive breast cancer were diagnosed at an average age of 50 years and after an average 18 years of hormone treatment.

This was higher than the general male population whose gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth (cisgender men), but lower than the general female population (cisgender women).

In 1,229 trans men, four cases of invasive breast cancer were identified at an average age of 47 years and after an average 15 years of hormone treatment. This was lower than expected compared with cisgender women.

Despite the large sample size, this is an observational study, and as such, can't establish cause, and the researchers point to some limitations, including missing or incomplete data about type of hormone use, family history, genetic mutations, tobacco and alcohol use, and body mass index.

Based on this study, the authors conclude that "the absolute overall risk of breast cancer in transgender people remains low and therefore it seems sufficient for transgender people using hormone treatment to follow screening guidelines as for cisgender people."

As the risk of breast cancer in trans women increased during a relatively short duration of hormone treatment, they suggest "it would be worthwhile for future studies to investigate in more detail the cause of breast cancer in transgender people receiving hormone treatment."


Related Breast Cancer Articles:

Does MRI plus mammography improve detection of new breast cancer after breast conservation therapy?
A new article published by JAMA Oncology compares outcomes for combined mammography and MRI or ultrasonography screenings for new breast cancers in women who have previously undergone breast conservation surgery and radiotherapy for breast cancer initially diagnosed at 50 or younger.
Blood test offers improved breast cancer detection tool to reduce use of breast biopsy
A Clinical Breast Cancer study demonstrates Videssa Breast can inform better next steps after abnormal mammogram results and potentially reduce biopsies up to 67 percent.
Surgery to remove unaffected breast in early breast cancer increases
The proportion of women in the United States undergoing surgery for early-stage breast cancer who have preventive mastectomy to remove the unaffected breast increased significantly in recent years, particularly among younger women, and varied substantially across states.
Breast cancer patients with dense breast tissue more likely to develop contralateral disease
Breast cancer patients with dense breast tissue have almost a two-fold increased risk of developing disease in the contralateral breast, according to new research from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer.
Some early breast cancer patients benefit more from breast conservation than from mastectomy
Breast conserving therapy (BCT) is better than mastectomy for patients with some types of early breast cancer, according to results from the largest study to date, presented at ECC2017.
One-third of breast cancer patients not getting appropriate breast imaging follow-up exam
An annual mammogram is recommended after treatment for breast cancer, but nearly one-third of women diagnosed with breast cancer aren't receiving this follow-up exam, according to new findings presented at the 2016 Annual Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons.
Low breast density worsens prognosis in breast cancer
Even though dense breast tissue is a risk factor for breast cancer, very low mammographic breast density is associated with a worse prognosis in breast cancer patients.
Is breast conserving therapy or mastectomy better for early breast cancer?
Young women with early breast cancer face a difficult choice about whether to opt for a mastectomy or breast conserving therapy (BCT).
Breast density and outcomes of supplemental breast cancer screening
In a study appearing in the April 26 issue of JAMA, Elizabeth A.
Full dose radiotherapy to whole breast may not be needed in early breast cancer
Five years after breast-conserving surgery, radiotherapy focused around the tumor bed is as good at preventing recurrence as irradiating the whole breast, with fewer side effects, researchers from the UK have found in the large IMPORT LOW trial.

Related Breast Cancer Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Jumpstarting Creativity
Our greatest breakthroughs and triumphs have one thing in common: creativity. But how do you ignite it? And how do you rekindle it? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas on jumpstarting creativity. Guests include economist Tim Harford, producer Helen Marriage, artificial intelligence researcher Steve Engels, and behavioral scientist Marily Oppezzo.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#524 The Human Network
What does a network of humans look like and how does it work? How does information spread? How do decisions and opinions spread? What gets distorted as it moves through the network and why? This week we dig into the ins and outs of human networks with Matthew Jackson, Professor of Economics at Stanford University and author of the book "The Human Network: How Your Social Position Determines Your Power, Beliefs, and Behaviours".