No Higher Breast Cancer Risk with Hormone Therapy in Transgender Patients

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There is no higher risk of breast cancer in transgender patients undergoing hormonal therapy compared to the general population.
There is no higher risk of breast cancer in transgender patients undergoing hormonal therapy compared to the general population.

While concerns remain regarding the long-term health effects of hormonal therapy on transgender patients, new research indicates that there is no higher risk of breast cancer in this group than in the general population.

Reporting in LGBT Health, the analysis of U.S. veterans' medical records from 1998 to 2013 identified 10 cases of breast cancer in transgender people, according to study author George Brown, M.D., of Mountain Home VA Medical Center in Johnson City, Tenn.

The breast cancers tended to be more advanced in people who were born as male and transitioned to female, compared to those who were born female and transitioned to male.

Overall, however, transgender people appear to be at no higher odds for developing breast cancer. Speaking in a journal news release, Brown said that when groups of transgender and transsexual people are tracked over time, this has "not led to the detection of an increased incidence relative to the general population."

Still, he believes that doctors should discuss standard breast cancer screening with transgender patients -- whether or not they have had hormone therapy.

RELATED: New Cancer Prevention Study Investigates Lifestyles

"Breast cancer in transgender patients is rarely reported, and when it is, it is often in association with hormonal therapy and mentioned as a potential side effect of that therapy, particularly with estrogens," journal editor-in-chief William Byne, M.D., Ph.D., said in the news release.

Byne is a staff physician and psychiatrist at the James J. Peters VA Medical Center in Bronx, N.Y., and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.


  1. Brown, George R., MD. "Breast Cancer In Transgender Veterans: A Ten-Case Series." LGBT Health. doi:10.1089/lgbt.2014.0123. March 3, 2015.

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