Transgender women experience health disparities in all areas of medicine. Within surgical pathology, knowledge gaps relating to the concepts of transgender care exist. Medical transition for transgender women and transfeminine persons may involve hormone therapy and/or surgery to feminize the body. Understanding the common histologic changes in specimens from feminizing surgeries, as well as other specimens from patients on feminizing hormone therapy, will aid surgical pathologists in providing better care to this unique patient population.
To summarize histologic findings in surgical pathology specimens from transgender women taking feminizing hormones.
A systematic review of the OVID Medline and PubMed databases was performed to identify all studies describing histologic findings in surgical pathology specimens from transgender women from 1946 to 2019.
Much of the literature to date describing histologic findings in transgender women comes from the examination of genitourinary specimens removed during feminizing surgeries. Common benign changes associated with feminizing hormone therapy include the development of acini and lobules in the breast, testicular tubular changes, and squamous metaplasia of the prostate and urethra. Neoplastic cases include breast adenocarcinoma and fibroepithelial lesions, testicular germ cell tumors, prostatic adenocarcinoma, anal squamous cell carcinoma, pituitary adenomas, and meningiomas. Additional studies assessing the findings in other organ systems as well as population-based studies assessing rates of neoplasia are needed. However, future research relies on engagement within the surgical pathology community as well as collaboration with clinicians and patients to achieve optimal results.
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The authors have no relevant financial interest in the products or companies described in this article.