Transgender people and cancer screenings

Catching cancer early is one of the best ways to limit its impact, and cancer screenings are the best way to increase the odds of finding the disease when it’s most curable. Roswell Park’s Cancer Screening Center has specific guidelines for who should receive certain types of cancer screenings.

However, cancer screening recommendations are not the same for everyone — access and a person’s experience in the healthcare system can also be different depending on their circumstances and identity.

The transgender community often faces unique challenges in a society where education and healthcare practice are predominantly designed for cisgender patients.

If you’re a transgender individual, here are a few things to note:

  1. You could be at risk for cancers of reproductive organs that do not affirm your gender identity. A transgender woman may develop prostate cancer in her lifetime while a transgender man may develop cervicalbreast or ovarian cancer.
  2. Gender confirmation surgeries may not remove 100% of the tissue in that area. For example, a patient who underwent chest reconstruction may still need annual breast exams.
  3. Hormone therapy, and the length of time you’ve been on it, may increase your risk for certain cancer types.
  4. Research is significantly lacking in the area of transgender health. Fortunately, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is working hard to conduct more research and provide valuable insights.
  5. In addition to getting cancer screenings, there are other steps everyone can take to reduce the risk of cancer. These include avoiding tobacco and tobacco products, wearing sunscreen, limiting alcohol use, practicing safe sex, maintaining a healthy diet, living an active lifestyle and more.

Fill out a free personal assessment to learn which cancer screenings are recommended for you.

Understanding screening recommendations is just one of the many obstacles and challenges faced by transgender people when it comes to taking care of their health. The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey found that 23% of respondents did not see a doctor when they needed to, for fear of being mistreated. Additionally, this population faces insurance barriers and societal risk factors (mental health, substance abuse, intimate partner violence, lack of financial security, etc.) are prevalent.

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Here at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, we celebrate all individuals and groups, including transgender people, and will work with you to find the answers and care you need.

We’re committed to providing the highest quality healthcare to all members of our community. We invite you to make a cancer screening appointment at 716-845-4800. During this visit, a healthcare provider will review your personal cancer risk, determine which screenings you should have and help get those appointments set up for you. If you have any concerns, we encourage you to reach out to the Office of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion at or 716-845-4567.

Additional Resources:

WPATH World Professional Association for Transgender Health

Cancer Screening for the LGBTQ+ Community | Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

National LGBT Cancer Network (

The LGBT Cancer Project – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Cancer Survivor Support and Advocacy