Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the most common questions I receive both as a physician and as an advocate. Before you contact me with your question, please be sure that I haven’t already answered it below. Also, if you don’t see your question, it might be answered here.

While I hope this is a useful resource for you, please remember that these answers do  not constitute medical advice.  If you have any questions about your specific situation, you must always consult your medical provider rather than relying on any website.

Medical Q&A

Why does this website use both “breast” and “chest tissue”?

What we commonly call breast cancer impacts all people with breast tissue, including men of transgender experience, non-binary people, and some masculine-of-center and gender non-conforming women and people for whom the word “breast” does not feel comfortable or authentic. We know that all of these groups can experience marginalization within the healthcare system, and I want to ensure that my work serves as a safe and helpful resource. I am constantly learning and seeking to improve my own engagement and discussion of these issues, and I welcome feedback from these communities.

At what age should I start getting mammograms? 

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt.

I have had gender affirmation surgery, removing most of my chest tissue. Does this mean I have no cancer risk?

Removing chest tissue for any reason reduces the risk of cancer in that area significantly. However, there is never NO risk at all. People of all genders can have cancer in their breast tissue, so continue doing self-exams and regular healthcare check-ups.

I have breast / chest tissue pain. Does this mean I might have cancer?

Not necessarily. Years ago, it was thought that breast or chest tissue pain was always a symptom of early cancer, but that is not necessarily the case. Pain in your breast or chest tissue can happen for many reasons, including hormonal changes, bras that are too small or too large, bras that are unsupportive, use of binders and binding materials, clogged milk ducts, and other benign reasons. Cancer-related pain, however, is usually a result of inflammatory cancer of the tissue, or a growing tumor pressing against other tissues in advanced disease. If you have persistent pain, and/or pain accompanied by reddening skin, changes in skin texture (such as dimpling), burning or painful nipples, please see your doctor immediately.

I have nipple discharge. Is that normal?

It certainly can be, especially when you’re experiencing hormonal changes. However, nipple discharge is something a doctor should evaluate in-person, especially if it is persistent. Some kinds of nipple discharge are caused by non-cancerous infections that are important to treat, as well as by benign cysts. On other occasions, nipple discharge is a symptom of cancer. Please see your doctor immediately if you have nipple discharge.

Will my hormonal birth control or HRT increase my risk of breast or chest tissue cancer?

Prolonged use of hormonal birth control and other hormone-based medications can increase your risk. The level of risk is generally low, but your own personal health history must be considered in evaluating the level of risk. Be sure to discuss your personal and family history with your doctor, and decide together the best approach to take to hormone-based medications.

Still have questions?

Contact me here