SAN ANTONIO — Everyone has some risk for breast cancer and that includes the transgender population.
"I just knew I wanted to be a girl and nobody was going to stop me," said Jamie Zapata who started transitioning when she was just 10 years old. She added, "I was full-time living as a female since I was 14."
She had her first mammogram two years ago. Zapata said, "It was slightly painful but I knew it needed to be done but I was willing to do it."
"Transgender females, if they've been on hormonal therapy or feminizing hormones for five to ten years, then they can consider getting screened for breast cancer," said Dr. Pamela Otto, the chair of radiology at UT Health San Antonio, and a radiologist in the University Health System radiology laboratory.
She says the risk of a transgender woman contracting breast cancer is much lower than that of a transgender man. Dr. Otto told us, "Let's say you are a transgender male but you didn't have mastectomies, then your risk for breast cancer is the same as a biologic female, and they need to be screened using the same very criteria that you were a female."
The University Medical Centre in Amsterdam looked at 2,260 trans women and 1,229 trans men who received hormone treatment between 1972 and 2016. Of those trans women, 15 cases of invasive breast cancer were diagnosed. But of those trans men, only four cases of invasive breast cancer were identified. Dr. Otto added, "But understand transgender females are females and all the other females in society are getting screened, so if they want to be screened they should be screened."
Zapata agrees and told us, "I think it's important to have a mammogram if they require it. I think if it can save your life you should definitely get a mammogram it's better than dying."
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