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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at USF chapter.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

This month, and every month, we should be uplifting the voices of patients and survivors, as well as spreading helpful information on how to detect the early signs and symptoms of breast cancer. Over the years, however, I’ve noticed that this month is most commonly made for and about cisgender women.

All people have breast tissue. This means that anybody, regardless of sex, could potentially develop breast cancer at some point in their life. And while the risk of breast cancer is much higher in those who are assigned female at birth, it’s important that we are inclusive of all genders in our discussions about it. It’s also imperative that all genders know how to conduct a breast self-exam on themselves.

Not everyone has access to mammograms, nor does everyone have access to an OB-GYN, especially those who are trans/gender non-conforming. Because of healthcare disparities like this, I cannot stress how important it is to know how to screen yourself for early signs of breast cancer.

Always check one breast at a time, using your left hand to check your right breast and your right hand to check your left breast. Using two fingers, start at the top of either armpit and press into the tissue, slowly making your way down in clockwise circles and spiraling your way around the tissue until you meet the nipple. The Instagram post linked above has great visual aids on what to look for while checking your breast tissue:

  • Lumps or swelling in the breast, upper chest, or armpit
  • Discoloration of the breast
  • Unusual changes in the nipples; sudden invertedness, rash or crusting, discharge or bleeding
  • Change in the size or shape of the breast
  • Change in skin texture, i.e. puckering or dimpling
  • Persistent pain in one spot of the breast

Although it’s pretty rare, it’s still possible for trans men and AFAB non-binary people to develop breast cancer after a mastectomy (top surgery) and/or while taking testosterone. Signs and symptoms are the same as those listed above. If you can, try looking for a trans-friendly OB-GYN/healthcare provider in your area if you have any concerns about your breasts!

It is important to perform a breast self-exam at least once a month regardless of gender, age, or the amount of breast tissue you have. For those who have menstrual cycles, it is best to do your self-screening the week after your period ends. Be sure to reach out to your friends and family members to ensure they’re doing their monthly self-exams as well. And remember: in October, we wear pink!

Hey, I'm Nia, your local aspiring renaissance woman. I'm a fourth-year communication major at the University of South Florida. Overly passionate about storytelling, cartoons, and Beyoncé.