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The Brazette

Resources for Trans and Non-Binary People

14 June 2021

Everyone has breast tissue and people of all genders can get breast cancer. This page is for people who are trans or non-binary, and anyone else who wants to know about checking and changes during transition. You can find out about breast cancer in men by visiting this page.  CoppaFeel! and Live Through This have produced these resources to ensure all young people are empowered with the information they need to get to know their bodies.

Live Through This 

Live Through This is a cancer support and advocacy charity for the LGBTIQ+ community. They seek to better represent the queer community in the cancer space, working collaboratively with beneficiaries, clinicians and other organisations to drive positive outcomes for all. To find out more about their work, click the logo below.

On this page we cover:

 

 

A note on terms:

We use the terms ‘chest’ and ‘breast’ on this page. We use the term ‘chest’ on this page, and ‘breast’ when we need to be clinically accurate, for example when we talk about breast cancer. You might prefer to call your chest something else, and that’s ok!

Glossary of Terms

 

Changes During Transition

Breast cancer can affect people of any age or gender, so it’s really important to get to know what’s normal for your body and understand how it could change if you are transitioning. Click for more guidance on changes during transition, and scroll down for the symptoms of breast cancer to be aware of.

Changes During Transition

The Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer

Look:

Nipple Discharge

Liquid that comes from the nipple without squeezing.

Feel:

Lumps or thickening

 

New, unusual lumps or an area that feels thicker than the rest.

Look:

Changes in skin texture

 

Puckering or dimpling of the skin, that might look like orange peel.

Look:

Change in size or shape

 

a sudden, persistent or unexplained change in size or shape.

Feel:

Constant, unusual pain

Unexplained pain that doesn’t go away with your period (if you have them).

Look:

Nipple inversion

The nipple is pointing in a different direction or is ‘pulled in’ when it’s normally out.

 

Feel:

Swelling in armpit or collarbone

A lump, swelling or thickening in your upper chest or armpit area.

Look:

Rash or crusting of the nipple

Redness, a rash or crusting of the nipple or the surrounding skin.

'It's a process' Theo's Story

Chest Check 101

Everyone is different and knowing your normal is a process, but you can start here for the need-to-know on all the bits you need-to-know.

Check regularly

If dysphoria is making this difficult, you could try different methods, positions or settings, like checking without a mirror, beneath loose clothing or on days when you feel less dysphoric.

Look and Feel

Check all parts of your chest, including your armpits, up to your collarbones and your nipples. If you have developed breasts as part of your transition, have implants (or are planning to get them) this will not affect how you need to check yourself.  However, it’s  still really important to get to know your new normal

If in doubt, get checked out

Even if you have had top surgery, some tissue remains around the nipple. under the collarbone and in the armpit that needs to be checked – this may be referred to as ‘breast tissue’ by healthcare professionals. When breast cancer is detected early it is more easily treated and the survival rate is higher.

Download our Posters

CoppaFeel! and Live Through This have worked in collaboration with our LGBTIQ+ beneficiaries to design a series of posters for Trans and Non-Binary people. Our posters give information on the signs and symptoms of breast cancer and guidance on how to check, with tips on how to get started, how to deal with dysphoria when checking, and information on how having implants or getting top-surgery might affect how you check. 

For Personal Use

 

Read our FAQs 

Live Through This and CoppaFeel! worked with trans and non-binary people to develop these resources. These are some of the questions that came up in the creation of these resources, and our answers to them.

 

Why have you used fruit to show the signs and symptoms? How would it look on my body?

We want to show the signs of breast cancer in a way that everybody can understand, whatever their body type. Some breast cancer imagery can cause dysphoria in some people, so we wanted to show something different to these typically masculine or feminine images. Signs and symptoms of breast cancer do not change, but they might vary in how they look on different bodies or skin types and colours. It is important for you to get to know what is normal for you, so that you can recognise any changes. We used fruit to show these signs and symptoms of breast cancer to avoid a ‘one size fits all’ depiction.

When will I get invited to screening by the NHS?

Breast cancer screening is for anyone between the ages of 50 and 70 who has breasts, due to either naturally-occurring oestrogen or oestrogen hormone therapy. If you are taking oestrogen you are unlikely to need breast screening in the first two years of taking it. After that, if you meet the criteria, you should think about having your breasts screened for signs of breast cancer (mammogram). If you are registered as female with your GP you should receive an automatic invite when you reach 50. If you are registered as male with your GP, you will need to request breast screening from your doctor.

What do you mean by understanding my new normal?

It’s very common to experience changes during transition. These changes could be due to hormone treatment or surgery. Whatever the reason for the change, you will need to get to know your new normal. This can be strange at first, while you get used to the difference. Perhaps you have scar tissue or more breast tissue than before, just get to know your changes and contact your doctor if you have concerns. It is natural to feel some pain in your chest during transition, but contact your doctor if you have bad pain or unexplained changes.

I have had top-surgery, do I need to keep checking?

Yes! Everyone needs to check. If you have had top surgery, once everything has healed, you will need to get to know your new normal by checking your chest regularly. Make sure you check areas that might still contain breast tissue. This may include tissue under your armpits and up to your collarbone, and your nipples.

I don’t use the term ‘breast’  when I talk about my body. Will my doctor use the same terms as me?

You have the right to describe your body in the way you choose and your doctor should respect that. You might use the term chest, pecs, breasts, boobs, or something else, and that is fine. The doctor may at times refer to ‘breast tissue’ as this is the clinical name for the tissue that is at risk of breast cancer.

How do I check myself when I’m feeling dysphoric?

We appreciate that dysphoria can be a barrier to touching and looking at your chest. However, regular checking is important for everyone. If you’re experiencing dysphoria, try looking at your chest without using a mirror. You could also try touching your chest beneath loose clothing, or checking your chest on days when you are feeling less dysphoric. Checking might feel easier on some days than others, but getting to know what’s normal for you is a process and a practice. Keep going!

A lot of this information feels like it’s aimed at younger people. Does it still apply to me?

Transition is a process that can happen at any age. CoppaFeel! is a charity aimed at younger people, but this information is important and intended for every person, of any age.

I’ve had top surgery, will I still have to get mammograms?

You cannot have mammograms after top surgery because most of your breast tissue is removed. However, it is important that you continue to check your chest regularly. Make sure you check areas that still contain breast tissue. This might include tissue under your armpits and up to your collarbone, and your nipples. If you do need to be sent for a scan, your doctor will arrange for the right test based on your body and circumstances.

Getting to know your normal

Visit the Self-Checkout

The Self-Checkout is here to help you get to know your chest by guiding you through the steps to checking and how to make it part of your routine.

Get Started

Get a Regular
Boob Check
Reminder

Knowing your boobs could save your life, so sign up for one of our regular reminders to check your boobs.

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