What you need to know about breast implants and breast cancer
The relationship between breast cancer and breast implants is often misunderstood. Women get breast implants for many reasons, and many breast cancer patients who have undergone a mastectomy have received breast implants. Questions about augmentation and risk factors include: does getting breast implants lower your risk of getting breast cancer or does it make you more susceptible to breast cancer?
“Neither silicone, nor saline, implants have any scientific findings indicating that breast cancer increases as a result of implants,” says Wendy Bingham, APN, of the Breast Health department at Advocate Dreyer in Aurora, Ill. “However, that does not mean women with breast implants have no risk of breast cancer.”
When breast implants are put in for cosmetic purposes, they can go under or over the breast tissue. A double mastectomy removes virtually all breast tissue, which drastically reduces the chances of breast cancer occurring. Cosmetic breast implants do not remove that tissue, and therefore, you can still be at risk for breast cancer. So what do you do if you find a lump and have breast implants?
“Breast implants can obscure mammogram images, decreasing the ability of mammograms to reveal breast cancer,” says Bingham. “Still, it is an effective way to screen for breast cancer in women with breast implants. Just make sure to tell your provider you have implants before the mammogram and even when scheduling.”
Breast implants don’t necessarily mean there won’t be breast cancer, and there is no evidence of increase or decrease in risk. Providers recommend that whether you have implants or are all natural, women follow guidelines for mammogram screenings.
“Family history plays a major role in breast cancer and testing,” says Bingham. “Women with a family history should have an exam every six months, while women with no family history should do self-surveillance with monthly self-breast exams.”
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