Screening for osteoporosis
In addition to receiving cardiovascular risk factor assessment and monitoring, transgender men and women on hormone therapy should also undergo bone density testing “when risk factors for osteoporosis are present, especially in patients stopping hormone therapy after a gonadectomy,” said Dr. D’Assigny.
Calcium and vitamin D supplements are also recommended for all patients after a gonadectomy, especially in transgender men on testosterone. Osteoporosis screening is recommended for transgender men 10 years after starting treatment with testosterone, then every 10 years.
There is also the risk for breast cancer in transgender women, although the risk is lower than in cisgender women. This risk was highlighted in another study of more than 2,260 transgender women that was carried out by a team at Amsterdam UMC.
A total of 18 cases of breast cancer (15 invasive) were diagnosed after a median 18 years of hormone treatment. This represents an incidence of breast cancer that is 46 times higher than that expected in cisgender men of the same age but 3 times lower than in cisgender women.
The authors noted that “the risk of breast cancer in transgender women increases during a relatively short duration of hormone treatment,” going on to say that “these results suggest that breast cancer screening recommendations are relevant for transgender men and women on hormone therapy.”
Poorly attended screening
All of this means that transgender women older than age 50 years, as well as transgender men who have not had a mastectomy, should be offered a mammogram screening, taking into account the possible presence of implants in the former. Transgender women are also at risk for prostate cancer. Monitoring is personalized according to the individual risk of prostate disease, as it is for cisgender men.
There is no consensus on the monitoring of transgender men on hormone therapy for uterine cancer. Yet there is a risk. “Testosterone causes thinning of the endometrium, which may lead to dysplasia,” said Dr. D’Assigny. A physical examination once a year or a pelvic ultrasound scan every 2 years should form the basis of endometrial and ovarian appearance monitoring.
Transgender women are also at risk for prostate cancer. However, they are less likely to attend a prostate cancer screening test, said Dr. D’Assigny, which means “we need to raise awareness of their benefit in advance.” Vaginal swabs for transgender men and mammograms in transgender women “are resented, on both a physical and emotional level.” As a result, delays in diagnosis are common in transgender men and women.
Globally, access to care is still difficult for transgender patients because they don’t always receive appropriate gynecological monitoring, through fear of judgment or discrimination. Many transgender men and women are reluctant to see a gynecologist, even though they are at risk of gynecological cancers, as well as unwanted pregnancies in transgender men who have not undergone a hysterectomy.
In a demonstration of the collective desire to improve patient care for the transgender community, a literature review was recently published by a French team that analyzed gynecological monitoring methods in transgender patients. In September, the French National Authority for Health also issued a guidance memorandum on the transgender transition pathway, pending new recommendations scheduled for 2023.
A version of this article first appeared on Medscape.com.
This article was translated from the Medscape French edition.