11 Aug Risk of Breast Cancer in the LGBTQ+ Community
Some studies show that members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning + (LGBTQ+) community have a greater risk of breast cancer than people who are not LGBTQ+. This is not because of their orientation, but rather due to some risk factors that tend to be more common in the community. Some of the factors that may increase risk include, never having children or having them later in life, obesity, and alcohol use. Because of these common risk factors members of the LGBTQ+ community should make sure to consult their doctors about their risk and talk about an appropriate screening schedule.
Getting screened for breast cancer is important as catching breast cancer early increases survival rates. At this time, it is unclear if members of the LGBTQ+ community have similar rates of screening as heterosexual women. One study found similar rates of screening mammography among the LGBTQ+ community and heterosexual women, however some findings have shown that LGBTQ+ people may not get regular mammograms. The reasons for irregular screenings are not yet clear. On the other hand, lack of insurance, a perceived low breast cancer risk and not seeing a health care provider regularly may all play a role in irregular screening. Some members of the LGBTQ+ community have also conveyed that they avoid seeing healthcare providers for fear of discrimination over their orientation. Finding a provider who is sensitive to your needs is extremely important as early detection is vital.
At this time, data on breast cancer among transgender men and women are too limited to comment on any increased or decreased risk in these populations. If you are transgender, talk with your health care provider about your breast cancer risk. Your provider can assess your situation.
For more information about LGBTQ+ risk go to http://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/Statistics.html