Prostate and Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, March 2023 & Testicular Cancer Awareness Month, April 2023

March is designated to spotlight prostate and ovarian cancer whilst in April, we also raise awareness to testicular cancer. Unfortunately, trans people are often left out of these awareness months, so we want to highlight the common symptoms and discuss the importance of inclusive language for the trans and gender diverse community.

Please remember to get tested regularly for prostate, ovarian, and testicular cancer. We have created three lists of symptoms for all these cancers. Read through the lists carefully. If you feel like most of the symptoms apply to you, do not hesitate to contact your doctor for an appointment.

Symptoms of Testicular Cancer

  • Painless swelling or a lump in one of your testicles (this may be around the size of a pea; however, it might also be bigger)
  • Any change in shape or texture of your testicles
  • Increasing firmness of a testicle
  • Difference in appearance between both testicles
  • Dull or sharp pain in your testicles or scrotum
  • Feeling like your scrotum is heavy

Testicular cancer is most common among young and middle-aged cis men. This is especially the case for cis men between the ages of 20-35. While it is more common in cis men, trans women and anyone with the correct anatomy can have it too . There have been instances in which trans women on gender-affirming hormone treatment were diagnosed with testicular cancer.

One study found that the risk of testicular cancer in trans women is similar to the risk in cis men. The study recorded no cases of cancer in trans women taking gender-affirming hormones for over five years. Nevertheless, this field is still not studied enough among trans and gender diverse people.

Do see a doctor immediately if you have one of the first two symptoms as they are the most common. Testicular cancer is over 95% curable if doctors detect it early. However, some people will have no symptoms. For a more detailed list of testicular cancer symptoms, visit the NHS website.

Symptoms of Prostate Cancer

  • Weak or unsteady urinary stream
  • Leaking urine unintentionally
  • Feelings as if you cannot fully empty your bladder
  • Straining while urinating
  • Blood in urine or blood in semen
  • Difficulty starting urination (hesitancy)
  • Needing to go to the bathroom quickly and urgently
  • Urinating frequently or more often than usual (especially urinating more at night)

Trans people assigned male at birth who have been taking gender-affirming feminising hormones may be less likely to have common symptoms. This is especially the case if you started gender-affirming treatment early in life. Nevertheless, trans people assigned male at birth are still at risk for it. You may encounter unsupportive or transphobic doctors. However, you cannot let that stop you from getting tested as your physical health is important.

There is still not enough research to determine how high the risk of prostate cancer is in trans women and non-binary AMAB people. For more information, read through our blog post. For a more detailed list of prostate cancer symptoms, visit the NHS website.

Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer

  • Continuous stomach or pelvis pain
  • Persistent bloating
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full more quickly
  • Urinating frequently or more often than usual
  • Urgent need to urinate

Trans men will likely face additional challenges. They have an increased risk for ovarian cancer compared to cis men who do not have ovaries. Moreover, they also have decreased access to healthcare. Many medical professionals might discriminate against the trans community. Even if you did not retain your ovaries, you should still be attentive to possible symptoms.

Therefore, we encourage you to pay close attention to early symptoms. Seek immediate medical care if necessary. For a more detailed list of ovarian cancer symptoms, visit the NHS website.

Trans-Inclusive Language

The discourses around cancer often exclude trans and non-binary people who have prostates, ovaries and testicles. Prostate and testicular cancer also affects trans women and ovarian cancer can happen to trans men too. Therefore, these discussions and yearly awareness activities need to include the trans and gender diverse community.

Moreover, trans-inclusive language impacts the well-being and physical health of trans people. Healthcare professionals need to make trans people aware that they could be at risk of certain types of cancers. If they are presumed to have a specific set of body parts, because they are legally recognised as a man or a woman, doctors will not call you for specific gendered screenings. This can lead to serious health complications.

For example, in the UK, if your NHS records label you as male, doctors will not call you in for a cervical screening, even though you might have a cervix. Inclusive language and intersectional approaches in the medical field save lives. Unfortunately, this means having to potentially disclose your trans identity to medical professionals in order to be tested or screened for certain cancers.

Get Tested!

This Prostate and Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month as well as Testicular Cancer Awareness Month let’s include all genders. It is about ensuring that everyone tests themselves for the different types of cancer. Prevent late diagnoses of cancer this month by educating yourself and seeking medical care when necessary. If you would like to speak to a member of our team, visit our Help Centre.