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Breast Cancer Resource
Risk Factors: Lesbians

Risk Factors: Lesbians

Lesbians, Bisexual Women, and Transgender People and Breast Cancer

Lesbian and bisexual women may have a greater risk of developing breast cancer due to common lifestyle trends. Reproductive factors, such as not bearing children or having children after age 30, can increase breast cancer risk. Additionally, increased rates of smoking, alcohol use, and high fat diets, as well as higher rates of obesity, can elevate women’s risk of developing breast cancer.

Lesbians and women who partner with women are less likely to see a doctor on a regular basis and therefore not receive regular cancer screenings. Some may delay seeing a doctor because they are afraid of being treated poorly due to their sexual orientation and as a result breast cancer may not be found and treated as early as possible.  Some women find it useful to ask their friends for doctor recommendations when looking for medical providers.

Transgender persons are also at risk for developing breast cancer. Even those who have had their breast tissue removed are still at risk of developing breast cancer. Screening recommendations are the same for female to male transpeople but there are no screening recommendations for male to female transpeople. Any change in the look and feel of your breast should be brought to your medical provider’s attention. Very little is known about the risks of hormone use and breast cancer in transgendered people.

The Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition provides outreach and education to the LGBT community and cultural competency training to health care providers. For more information, contact (302) 778-1102.

Additional Resources:

Mautner Project: Breast Cancer

Susan G. Komen for the Cure®: Disparities in Breast Screening
(On the home page, under the"Understanding Breast Cancer” drop-down menu, select “Early Detection & Screening.” Then, on the left sidebar, select “Disparities in Breast Cancer Screening.” About half-way down the Disparities page, you can find the “Lesbians and bisexual women” section and factsheet (PDF) link. )

Susan G. Komen for the Cure®: Who Gets Breast Cancer-Lesbians and Women who Partner with Women
(On the home page, under the"Understanding Breast Cancer” drop-down menu, select “Breast Facts.” In the table of sections/links, under “Breast Cancer Statistics,” choose “Lesbians and women who partner with women” or “Transgender people.)