Sexual and gender minority breast cancer patients choosing bilateral mastectomy without reconstruction: “I now have a body that fits me”

Maria T Brown, Jane A. McElroy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations


Sexual and gender minority (SGM) breast cancer patients have begun embracing the choice to “go flat” or opt out of reconstruction after bilateral mastectomy, though little is known about this population. SGM breast cancer survivors were identified through purposive and referral sampling and invited to participate in a web-based survey containing both closed- and open-ended items. Of the sixty-eight SGM breast cancer survivors aged 18–75 years who completed the survey between May 2015 and January 2016, 25 percent reported “going flat” (flattoppers®). Bivariate analyses revealed that flattoppers® were significantly more likely to have been diagnosed in the past five years, to identify as genderqueer, to have disclosed their sexual orientation or gender identity (SOGI) to providers, and to report participating in lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender cancer support groups, compared to other participants. More flattoppers® believed that SOGI mattered in terms of getting the support they needed regarding their cancer; this difference was not statistically significant. Thematic analysis of qualitative comments from flattoppers® revealed themes related to reasons for making this treatment choice, interactions with health-care providers around treatment choice, and physical and emotional outcomes of treatment choice. Providers would benefit from training about SOGI as they relate to treatment choices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-418
Number of pages16
JournalWomen and Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 21 2018



  • Breast cancer
  • gender identity
  • mastectomy
  • sexual orientation
  • survivors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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