Breast Care in the Transgender Individual
Transgender individuals undergo hormone therapy and/or alter their breasts or genitals to facilitate a transition from male to female or female to male. Changes in the breast tissue from hormone therapy, breast binding, mastectomy, or breast augmentation are of specific interest to women's health care providers. To provide competent care, providers must be knowledgeable about unique aspects of breast health in this vulnerable population, including screening guidelines and client education. The purpose of this integrative literature review is to compile the current research on breast health for transgender individuals and to serve as a resource for providers.
A search of the literature was performed using CINAHL, Ovid, and PubMed. Results were reviewed for relevant articles, and the reference lists of these were reviewed for additional resources. When available, studies specific to the transgender population are presented; studies of other populations are also included when relevant. Theories of human endocrinology, physiology, and anatomy will provide the foundation for the review and discussion.
Research into breast care for transgender individuals is limited. Often, practitioners must draw conclusions for practice from scattered case studies or research with nontransgender populations. Many of the procedures and practices transgender individuals choose to undergo, such as implantation, injection, binding, and mastectomy, carry serious risks.
Transgender individuals should be counseled on all the possible outcomes of their decisions, so they are capable of making informed choices. They must also be followed with careful consideration of these choices. More research in many areas of transgender breast care is necessary.