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Study Backs Mammograms For Transsexuals

June 18, 2010
Written by: , Filed in: Breast Imaging
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“Data on the necessity of performing screening mammographies in transsexual women are lacking,” drily declares a group of researchers from Ghent University Hospital in Ghent, Belgium.

So the researchers set out to acquire some of that missing data. Their conclusion about whether such mammographies should be performed: why not?

Well, what they actually said, in an abstract of their research findings in the current issue of the European Journal of Radiology, is:

Since breast cancer risk in transsexual women is largely unknown and breast exams are very well accepted, breast screening habits in this population should not differ from those of biological women.

Steven Weyers, MD, and colleagues interviewed 50 Dutch-speaking transsexual women. (Dr. Weyers is the gynecologist on the hospital’s transgender team, which does sex-reassignment surgery.) The researchers asked about attitude toward mammography and breast sonography, importance of and satisfaction with breast appearance, opinion about the necessity of breast checkups, expectations regarding discomfort during the exams, and patient knowledge about her own breast surgery. Then the subjects underwent a fasting blood sample, a clinical breast exam, mammography, and breast sonography.

Twenty-three percent of the patients did not know what type of breast implants they had, and 73% did not know the implants’ position relative to the pectoral muscles.

On the other hand, “Patient satisfaction with the appearance of their breasts was rather high (7.94 on a scale of 0–10).” The patients expected relatively little pain from the mammography (a mean of 4.37 on the 10-point scale) and experienced even less (2.00).

Overall, Dr. Weyers and his colleagues concluded, “Mammography and breast sonography were technically feasible, and no gross anomalies were detected. Since both exams were judged as nearly painless, 98% of transsexual women intended to come back if they would be invited.”

Related seminar: Breast Imaging and Digital Mammography (covers the latest techniques)

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