With October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, I thought it would be appropriate to address common questions I get about breast cancer and implants. It is very wise to address all angles of questions about your Breast Augmentation so that you can have complete confidence and peace going into the surgery and from there on after.
Do breast implants cause cancer?
No. Breast implants are one of the most rigorously studied medical implants. Expansive medical studies of women with and without breast implants show no difference in cancer. There is not a higher of a prognosis of any kind or size or frequency in the group with breast implants. Therefore it is safe to conclude that the breast implant itself is not the cause.
Do breast implants prevent breast cancer detection?
No. The methods for breast cancer detection, such as self examination, ultrasound and mammography, are not hindered by breast implants. You should perform regular self exams to know your breasts before and after your augmentation. If the implant placement is below the muscle you should have no problem with palpating the breast tissue around the implant. It is also recommended for women over age 35 to have a mammogram before receiving implants in order to have a baseline comparison.
When receiving a mammogram, it is important to select a radiologist who is experienced with the methods necessary for an effective reading of breasts with implants. They should be competent in the Eklund technique and oblique view mammography. Whether the implant is placed subglandular or submuscular, the Eklund technique significantly increases the amount of breast tissue that can be scanned.
Will mammograms damage breast implants?
This is very unlikely. When in the hands of an experienced radiologist, the pressure exerted by the mammogram should not be enough to burst the implant. Both Silicone and Saline implants are designed with the durability to withstand pressures and compression.
Does breast augmentation with fat grafting prevent cancer detection?
While fat grafting as a form of Breast Augmentation doesn’t prevent cancer detection, it makes detection more complicated. The die off rate of fat cells leaves behind irregularities within the breast tissue and calcifications that can look very much like breast cancer. Fat grafting is not causing cancer, however it is easy to mistake the fat calcification for cancer calcification. The truth usually needs to be clarified via biopsy, although it can cause much worry in the mean time.
How much of a risk is a Breast Augmentation regarding the likelihood of cancer?
If you have a Breast Augmentation with implants, you no longer can get good enough cancer detecting results with a regular 2 view mammography screening. However, the specialized methods, such as the Eklund technique, are available to still get a good view of the breast tissue hidden behind the implants. Studies demonstrate that there is no proven additional risk of getting breast cancer if you have breast implants, but you need to take advantage of the additional techniques for detection.
Steven Davison M.D.
Board Certified Plastic/Reconstructive Surgeon