Breast Cancer in the LBGT Community

Gay, lesbian and bisexual women

Breast cancer rates

Although lesbians and bisexual women tend to have an increased risk of breast cancer, it’s not because of their sexual orientation.

Rather, the increased risk of breast cancer is linked to risk factors that tend to be more common in lesbians such as never having children or having them later in life, obesity and alcohol use [97-100].

Breast cancer screening

Some findings show the rates of screening mammography among lesbians and bisexual women and heterosexual women are similar [101].

Some data even show screening mammography rates are higher among gay and lesbian women compared to straight women [60]. In 2018 (most recent data available) [60]:

  • 79 percent of gay and lesbian women ages 50-74 had a mammogram in the past 2 years
  • 73 percent of straight women ages 50-74 had a mammogram in the past 2 years

However, some lesbians and bisexual women may not get regular mammograms. This may be due to [102]:

  • Lack of health insurance
  • Perceived low risk of breast cancer
  • Past discrimination or insensitivity from health care providers
  • Low level of trust of providers

One step you can take is to find a provider who is sensitive to your needs. Getting a referral from a trusted friend may help.

Regular provider visits offer the chance to discuss your risk of breast cancer, get breast cancer screening and get other health care.

Transgender people

Data on breast cancer among transgender men (female sex assigned at birth, male gender identity) and transgender women (male sex assigned at birth, female gender identity) are limited.

One small study compared breast cancer rates among transgender people who had hormone treatments, with or without surgery as part of their transition, to breast cancer rates in the general population [103]. These early findings suggested [103]:

  • Transgender men had a much lower risk of breast cancer than women in the general population, but a higher risk than men in the general population.
  • Transgender women had a much lower risk of breast cancer than women in the general population, but a higher risk than men in the general population.

There’s still much to learn about the risk of breast cancer in transgender people. If you are transgender, talk with your health care provider about your risk of breast cancer.