Breast Implants and Cancer Screening

It’s one of the most common questions that I hear from my patients: how will my breast implants impact cancer screening? Many of my breast augmentation patients have friends or family members who have suffered with breast cancer. Some have even fought the disease themselves. Although breast implants can make mammogram images more difficult to read for some radiologists, mammograms remain an effective cancer screening method for women with breast implants.

Questions about cancer screening have surrounded breast implants for decades. As a result, there have been numerous studies into any possible links between implants and breast cancer. One of the largest studies was conducted by the National Cancer Institute beginning in 1992. This study, which followed 13,500 women over the course of more than a decade, found no link between breast implants and breast cancer risk.

You can read the report yourself at the NCI website. One of the most surprising findings was that women with implants were actually found to be at a lower risk for breast cancer. The study also addresses another common concern: do women with breast implants tend to have more advanced cancer diagnosis?

The answer is no. Breast implants appear opaque under mammography, which can make the images more difficult to read for radiologists. However, two large epidemiologic studies showed that there were no differences in stage at diagnosis or survival rates among implant versus non-implant patients.

In short, mammograms are still an effective screening method for women with implants, and have not been linked to greater instances of breast cancer. However, if you have breast implants, you can take some extra steps to ensure proper screening. Some radiologists have experience reading mammograms with breast implants, so you should find a clinic that regularly examines breast augmentation patients.

More than anything, it’s important that you have regular breast-cancer screenings, and contact your doctor if you feel any lumps or irregularities.