Prostate Cancer Screening Issues for Transgender Women Found

Prostate Cancer Screening Issues for Transgender Women
Prostate Cancer Screening Issues for Transgender Women. Credit | FatCamera

United States: A new study says that current tests might miss early signs of prostate cancer in transgender women. Prostate cancer tests look for a protein called PSA in the blood. High levels of PSA can mean someone has prostate cancer.

But transgender women often take a hormone called estrogen, which lowers PSA levels. This means the test might not catch the cancer early enough because the “normal” PSA level used is too high for them.

PSA Levels in Transgender Women

Dr. Stephen Freedland who is from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles explained that the way we test might need to change to better find early-stage cancer in transgender women.

Current or recent guidelines says that PSA levels which is found in blood if it crosses 4 nanograms per millilitres of blood it can cause cancer at those levels a prostate biopsy can be ordered to check for cancer.

Also there is a report which was shown by Journal of the American Medical Association experts recently in June says that the researchers  analyzed the Veterans Health Administration medical records of 210 transgender women without prostate cancer who were taking estrogen.

“We found that the median PSA value, the midpoint in the range of participants, was 0.02 ng/mL, which is fiftyfold lower than PSA values reported in similar-aged cisgender men,” said lead researcher Dr. Farnoosh Nik Ahd who is already a urology resident at the University of California, San Francisco.


This also means that  transgender women taking estrogen who develop prostate cancer aren’t  likely to see their PSA increase enough to trigger a biopsy- till the cancer is at a later stage, Nik-Ahd explained.

And at this particular time this prostate cancer will be more life- threatening  and difficult to treat. There are a lot of researchers said that transgender woman on estrogen is at the higher risk for developing prostate cancer including Freeland who is the main researcher in this particular study.

Though he also noted that this particular study does not apply on all the transgender women which are need to be screened, however.

Implications and Awareness

“We know that PSA screening reduces the risk that cisgender men ages 55 to 69 will die of prostate cancer, but we don’t know that it does the same thing for transgender women taking estrogen,” Freedland said in a Cedars SInai news release. “However, because some of these women are being screened, we want to raise awareness that their typical PSA levels are different.”