Cervical cancer in lesbians and trans men
Lesbians and transgender men sometimes get mixed messages as to whether they should have smear tests or not. If their GP is aware of their sexual orientation, or gender dysphoria there may be an assumption that they do not have penetrative sex and therefore do not need to have a smear test. However, this is not necessarily true and even if you have never had penetrative sex there is still a risk of cervical cancer.
Not all trans men feel the need to have had their cervixes surgically removed. Coupled with it being a body part that they might feel as female should not be a part of them, they may not want to talk or even think about it. This can make it difficult for GPs to offer appropriate support.
Therefore, if you have a cervix and you are not offered a routine smear test, you need to ask for one as it is important that you have one regularly, regardless of your sexual orientation or gender identity.
Prostate cancer in men and trans women
One of the most common types of cancer is prostate cancer. The prostate is a gland that produces and stores a proportion of fluid part of semen. It is also recognised as an erogenous zone particularly for gay men who enjoy anal sex.
There is currently no screening program so if you have a prostate you should look out for changes associated with urinating such as:
- needing to urinate more frequently
- difficulty in starting or straining to urinate
- weak flow of urine
- feeling that your bladder has not emptied
Early detection of prostate cancer is essential as this can avoid the need to have the gland removed for survival. Due to its close relation to sexual function its removal can lead to changes in sexual response during anal sex and to the ability to ejaculate. However, if the cancer is left for too long even removal of the gland may not be enough to save the person’s life as the cancer can spread.
Transgender women are still a risk of prostate cancer and should look out for the symptoms. This is due to the fact that most trans women will still have a prostate gland even post-surgery. They may see their prostate as a link to their past gender identity, which they could be reluctant to discuss. But if you have any of the symptoms please contact your GP as soon as possible.
Everyone is at risk of breast cancer. However, people who have both the milk producing gland in breasts and ovaries are most at risk. This is because breast cancer is fuelled by a hormone oestrogen that these body parts cause to be made.
So, people who have had mastectomies, such as those female to male transgender people who have chosen to, will have a reduced risk of breast cancer. As do people who have had their ovaries removed for whatever reason. However, it has been shown that those male to female transgender people who are taking high doses of the oestrogen hormone to transition can increase their risk of developing breast cancer.
If you are invited to breast screening you should attend and you should perform routine self examinations.
The information on this website is an overview and should not be taken as a substitute for professional medical advice. Having a risk factor, or even several, does not mean that you will get the disease. If you have any concerns regarding your own health or that of any other individual you should contact your GP or a GUM clinic as soon as possible.