What is chest cancer?

Did you know that *chest tissue covers quite a large area? This tissue actually extends all the way to the collarbone and from the centre of the chest to your armpits. Even if you’ve had top surgery, some chest tissue will remain.

Chest cancer develops when abnormal cells multiply in these tissues. Normally, chest tissue cells grow, work, reproduce and die in an orderly way. But cancer cells multiply in an uncontrolled way, creating a lump, or tumour. If the tumour isn’t treated, it may spread and damage or destroy healthy tissue around it.

Not all abnormal cell growth in the chest area is harmful. Tumours that test negative for cancer are benign, meaning they don’t spread to other parts of the body and are not life-threatening.

*A note on terminology: In the trans men sections of this website, we refer to cancer in chest tissue as cancer of the chest, and to the tissue itself as chest tissue. This is because we recognize that many trans men and people on the transmasculine spectrum do not identify as having breasts, feel ambivalent about having breasts and prefer the term “chest” on its own. Although we use this terminology where appropriate, we also recognize the fact that some trans men do have breasts.