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The Truth about Breast Implants and Mammograms

Posted on May 23, 2011 Breast Implants

If you have undergone or are considering breast augmentation, you have probably worried about whether your implants will affect your breast health and your risk of breast cancer. Mammograms work well for detecting cancer in women without implants, but will they work for you? There has been much discussion on whether breast augmentation impedes a mammogram’s ability to accurately detect cancer. Here are the facts: •Implants do obscure the mammogram image and lead to a less accurate reading. •Doctors recommend that women aged 40 and over get regular mammograms whether they have implants or not. The consensus is that mammograms are still useful for detecting cancer even though they are less accurate for women with implants. You may be wondering, if doctors still recommend this procedure, does the decrease in accuracy matter? A recent study by researchers at the University of Southern Carolina looked at the relationship between mammogram accuracy and cancer survival rates in women with and without implants. They concluded that, in women with implants, mammograms are less accurate at detecting abnormalities. However, they showed no poorer survival rates even though their cancer was not detected until more advanced stages of its development. The researchers acknowledged, however, that since their sample of women was small, there was room for error, and a lack of difference of survival rates in the study does not mean that all women with implants diagnosed with cancer will have the same chance of surviving as women without implants. They also did not consider the placement of the implant, which interferes more with accuracy if it is under the breast tissue than if it is under the chest muscle. What to Take Away It is important to understand that with breast implants you will risk less accurate mammograms. However, having breast implants should not deter you from getting mammograms, as doctors still find it an effective way to detect breast cancer. If you have or decide to get breast implants, be wise and conscientious. Continue regular visits to your doctor and self checks at home. If you have any concerns about how implants will impact your breast health, Dr. David A. Bottger can give you more information during your consultation. Contact Dr. Bottger to schedule a consultation today.