Researchers “Demonstrate” Males Who Identify As Women Can Still Get Prostate Cancer

ThePublica Staff

Research published in a prominent journal related to the American Medical Association is inviting mockery after announcing that males who identify as women are still at risk for prostate cancer.

On April 29, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published new research from the University of California on prostate cancer in trans-identified males.

The research was conducted through the Veterans Affairs Health System and reviewed patients who were classified as transgender and who had received treatment for prostate cancer.

The researchers found 155 cases from 2000 to 2022 were confirmed as being “trans women with prostate cancer.”

Of the 155, 116 had never used estrogen, and 152 had not undergone an orchiectomy, the removal of the testicles. At diagnosis, the median age of the patients was 61, and 88% were white.

In the discussion segment of the paper, the researchers note that their case series “demonstrates that prostate cancer occurs in transgender women and is not as rare as published case reports might suggest.” However, they note that fewer cases were found than were estimated.

“Given estimates of 10,000 transgender women in Veterans Affairs, 33 cases per year would be expected. Instead, only about 14 per year were observed,” the researchers wrote.

They added that lower rates may stem from “barriers including lack of prostate cancer risk awareness or stigma.” The suppressive effects of estrogen on prostate cancer development were also noted.

Speaking to the San Francisco Chronicle on their findings, Dr. Stephen Freedland, a urologist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and an author of the paper, said: “There’s a misperception, both by patients and clinicians, that because these are women — they identify as women, they look like women — you don’t necessarily think you should check for prostate cancer.”

The researchers also asserted that “many trans women may not even realize they have a prostate,” and that “the women need to be educated, and the clinicians need to be educated, too.”

Screenshots of the San Francisco Chronicle article began circulating on Twitter over the weekend, with many users incredulous at the research conducted.

“Why don’t they tell us something we already know…duh? It’s because transgender women are MEN,” one user responded to a screenshot of the article.

Some speculated about the research cost. Others questioned why a study was needed to demonstrate that males continued to be at risk of prostate cancer regardless of their gender identity.

“Males face prostate cancer risk as they always did. Females face cervical cancer risk as they always did. Neither body part has magically appeared in the opposite sex,” another user said.

In March, the Canadian Cancer Society drew criticism for maintaining guidance for males who identify as transgender and the cervical cancer screening process.

On a webpage titled “As a trans woman, do I need to get screened for cervical cancer?” Canada’s largest national cancer charity provides advice for trans-identified males who are curious about receiving a cervical cancer screening.

According to the Mayo Clinic, cervical cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the cells of the cervix.

Various strains of the human papillomavirus, a sexually transmitted infection, play a role in causing most cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer is detected through semi-regular screenings called Pap smears, where a small brush is used to gently remove cells from the surface of the cervix so they can be tested.

But the Canadian Cancer Society has been providing guidance to males who identify as women on the female-specific cancer.

“If you’re a trans woman, you may not have given much thought to Pap tests and cervical cancer. And if you haven’t, that makes a fair amount of sense. After all, in order to get cervical cancer, you need to have a cervix — that is, the organ that connects the vagina to the uterus,” the Cancer Society’s official website reads. It goes on to state that “trans women” who have “had bottom surgery to create a vagina and possibly a cervix” should talk to a medical professional to “figure out specific cancer-screening needs.”

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