Transgender patients less likely to be screened for cancer: study

Researchers say health workers need to address the disparity

Transgender patients are less likely to be screened for cancers specific to their physical gender at birth, suggest researchers, saying practitioners need to address the health-care disparity affecting this often marginalized population.

In a study by St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, researchers assessed screening rates for cervical, breast, and colorectal cancer among 120 transgender patients eligible for the routine testing and compared them with rates among non-transgender patients seen by the family health team.

“We found that people who were trans had lower screening rates in our practice,” said Dr. Tara Kiran, a family doctor and the study’s principal investigator.

Transgender patients were about 70 percent less likely to be screened for breast cancer, 60 per cent less likely to get tested for cervical cancer, and 50 percent less likely to be screened for colorectal cancer — even after accounting for such other factors as age and the number of visits to their doctors.

READ MORE: B.C. to offer gender-affirming surgeries for transgender people

Patients who have transitioned from female to male and still require screening for breast and cervical cancer are often missed when provincial agencies such as Cancer Care Ontario send reminders that regular mammograms or Pap smears are due.

For trans patients requiring regular mammograms, the study found just one-third were screened, compared to two-thirds of non-transgender, or cisgender, patients. For cervical cancer, 56 per cent of trans patients had Pap tests compared to 72 per cent of non-trans patients.

READ MORE: Transgender Canadians say death certificates don’t reflect their lived identity

Among the 120 transgender patients included in the study, published Wednesday in the journal Canadian Family Physician, 76 per cent were physically female at birth but self-identified as male.

“If you are transitioned from female to male — but you still have a cervix, you haven’t had a hysterectomy — having a Pap test is an important part of screening for cervical cancer,” said Kiran. “But it also can really be gender dysphoric.

“If you can imagine, you are now identifying as a male but you are being asked to come in to do a procedure that’s really done for women. And so you’re being reminded of the fact there’s anatomy there that doesn’t relate to you being a man.

Cat MacDonald of Ajax, Ont., near Toronto, was born male but came to the realization at about age five that inside she was really girl. She didn’t do anything about it until the 1990s, when she began transitioning to female, which included taking a testosterone blocker and starting on lifelong doses of estrogen.

Taking the female hormone means MacDonald needs regular mammograms, as estrogen can lead to breast tissue growth that is potentially subject to malignancy. But at the same time, she needs regular testing for prostate cancer.

“There are still certain kinds of cancer that are more common in males that have to be screened for,” she said. “I’m fortunate that my health-care giver is very well-versed in trans medicine. She is aware of these and screens for it.”

It’s critical that health providers be better trained to provide sensitive, quality care to transgender patients, said MacDonald, 74. “So doctors have to become aware that this is specialized care.”


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Alberta Service Minister discusses registries, rural broadband in Lacombe

Minister Nate Glubish continues cross-Alberta tour

Lacombe Market vendor supporting family who lost their home

Lyndall Cave will be selling jewellery until the end of August

Lacombe Composite’s Ecovision Club, Friends of the Greenhouse preparing for successful harvest

LCHS students and community members keep programs growing throughout summer

Red Deer- Lacombe MP disapointed by Liberals blocking hearings on SNC-Lavalin affair ethics report

MP Calkins said Canadians will pass a verdict over the affair during the upcoming election

WATCH: Lacombe Days parade rolls through city

Hundreds turn out for annual tradition

Black bear ruins Alberta barber’s day

It’s not always a good idea to leave the door open

Conan turns to the Property Brothers for tips on buying Greenland

Jonathan Scott suggests removing glaciers and mountains to bring in ‘more natural light’

Red Deer Rebels Training Camp begins Aug. 24

Rebels home opener will be on Sept. 21 against the Edmonton Oil Kings

UPDATED: Search continues for possible drowning on Sylvan Lake

Sylvan Lake RCMP and Fire Department continue their search for 20-something adult male

New study suggests autism overdiagnosed: Canadian expert

Laurent Mottron: ‘Autistic people we test now are less and less different than typical people’

Huawei executive’s defence team alleges Canadians were ‘agents’ of the FBI

eng’s arrest at Vancouver’s airport has sparked a diplomatic crisis between Canada and China

Trans Mountain gives contractors 30 days to get workers, supplies ready for pipeline

Crown corporation believes the expansion project could be in service by mid-2022

Most Read