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National Institutes of Health awards FIU grant to study cancer screening among transgender Latinos

National Institutes of Health awards FIU grant to study cancer screening among transgender Latinos

Team of social scientists to study healthcare disparities among transgender communities and targeted interventions to reduce them

September 19, 2019 at 2:30pm

While transgender men and women have a higher risk of breast and cervical cancer, internalized stigma related to body image and gender identity may make them less likely to undergo preventive screenings for the disease.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded a team of social scientists from FIU’s 
Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs (SIPA) a $398,000 grant to study barriers to such screenings and how culturally sensitive, targeted interventions can support transgender persons in overcoming these barriers.
More than 1.7 million new cases of cancer are diagnosed in the United States and its territories each year and 37 percent of those are from breast and cervical cancer. Cancer is also one of the leading causes of deaths among Latinos.
The World Health Organization has noted a measurably higher risk of breast and cervical cancer faced by transgender men who retain their genitalia of birth. For transgender women, the development of breast tissue due to hormonal treatment may also increase the risk of breast cancer.
“Transgender men and transgender women have been under-studied with regard to reproductive cancer risk and there is very little information on how the disease affects their lives,’’ said 
Sheilla Rodriguez Madera, a professor in the Green School’s Department of Global & Sociocultural Studies and one of the principal investigators of the project, along with professors Mark Padilla and Nelson Varas-Diaz. “Cancer screening is one of the most important behaviors for the prevention of this condition.’’
A collaboration with researchers in Puerto Rico and San Francisco, the study will focus on Latino transgender communities in San Juan, Puerto Rico and Miami, with the aim of reducing health disparities experienced by these populations.
The project draws upon transgender theory, which aims to understand how transgendered persons’ experiences can impact their health care decisions.

“We expect the gathered data will contribute to the understanding of multilevel barriers for breast and uterine cervix cancer among transgender women and transgender men and the future development of an intervention to address them,’’ Rodriguez Madera said.
Funded by the National Cancer Institute, a part of the NIH, the project is a collaboration between FIU and the Ponce Health Sciences University School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences in Puerto Rico and the University of California at San Francisco’s Center for HIV Prevention Studies.