Female-to-male (FTM) and female-to-nonbinary (FTN) chest reconstruction surgery represent an important step toward living more comfortably in one’s authentic gender identity. This reconstructive procedure removes a significant amount of breast tissue from the chest, but not all of it. A small amount does remain in the chest wall after surgery. Here, we discuss how that relates to breast cancer risk.
Self-Breast Examinations: Are they Necessary after Chest Masculinization?
Recently, there has been a shift in the perceived value of breast self-exams. Doctors used to recommend these exams to occur once a month at home. Women could easily do this in the shower. Over time, it has been determined that monthly self-exams may do very little for the early detection of breast changes. In general, what is helpful is to know the body. If you undergo FTM or FTN chest surgery, what you can do is spend time getting to know your new chest landscape. You may do this by viewing and palpating or feeling the chest frequently. The better you know your body, the more quickly you will see or feel changes should they occur.
The Importance of Regular Breast Cancer Screenings
Historically, the most common breast cancer screening for women has been the traditional mammogram. After chest masculinization, though there is less breast tissue and therefore a reduced risk of breast cancer, regular screenings are still important. Instead of undergoing a mammogram as recommended based on age, patients may have MRI or ultrasound screenings instead. Breast cancer screenings continue to be important for people with a family history of breast cancer. In such instances, annual checkups should begin at age 30.
Reducing the Risk of Breast Cancer
A few lifestyle habits have been identified as related to breast cancer risk. The impact may be minor, but for those with a family history of this disease, prevention is often important to peace of mind. Preventative tips include:
- Consume alcohol in moderation. More than one drink a day has been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer.
- Do not smoke. This habit has been associated with several different kinds of cancer, including breast cancer.
- Consume a balanced diet that is low in fat and high in fresh fruits and vegetables. A high-fat diet can increase excessive estrogen production, increasing the risk of breast cancer. On the contrary, fresh, whole fruits and vegetables contain the antioxidants that help fight disease.
- Exercise to boost the immune system. Breast cancer risk correlates to the immune system. A strong immune system is bolstered by just thirty minutes of exercise three days a week.