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Detecting Breast Cancer With Implants

What Is Breast Implant

Will the implants make mammograms less accurate in detecting breast cancer? – Dr. Sreekar Harinatha

Breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma is also called BIA-ALCL. Its a rare form of lymphoma that occurs in some people whove had breast implants. Its a type of immune system cancer and isnt breast cancer.

This type of lymphoma occurs in the fluid and scar tissue around the implant. In more advanced cases, it may spread to lymph nodes near your breast and in other parts of your body. It can also enter your chest wall underneath your breast.

BIA-ALCL generally grows slowly. Usually, healthcare providers treat it surgically by removing the breast implant and surrounding capsule. In rare cases, it can be fatal.

Do Breast Implants Interfere With Mammograms

The short answer to that question is: Yes, they can. However, having a mammogram with breast implants isnt impossible its still a smart way to screen for breast cancer. What makes a mammogram a little trickier with breast implants is the material and the position of the implants.

A mammogram technologist needs to be able to see the breast tissue to spot any signs of abnormal growth or variations. However, most breast implants consist of either silicone or saline materials that make it difficult to see the breast tissue via x-ray. The gel in silicone implants helps the implant feel more natural, but it blurs the view of the breast tissue behind it. Similarly, the sterile saltwater that fills saline implants ends up obstructing the view of the breast tissue.

Though the material is part of what makes breast screening with implants so tricky, the position of the implant also has an effect. Plastic surgeons place most breast implants either in front of or behind the pectoral muscle. Implants that are in front of the pectorals will inevitably obstruct the view of the muscle and tissue behind. However, implant placement behind the pectoral muscles makes it a little easier for the technologist to capture viable images during the mammogram.

Screening For Breast Implant Rupture

The FDA recommends that people with silicone breast implants receive MRI screening for silent rupture 3 years after the initial implant surgery and every 2 years after that. Getting health insurance to cover this can be challenging, so you may have to work with your doctors office on this.

If at any time you think your implant may have ruptured, have your plastic surgeon check it. An imaging test, such as an ultrasound or MRI, can help determine whether an implant is leaking. An MRI is widely considered the most accurate imaging test for this purpose. However, as with any imaging test, theres some risk that the results will not be accurate a rupture may not show up or an intact implant may appear to be ruptured on an MRI.

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How To Examine Your Breasts For Signs Of Cancer After Implants

Regardless of whether or not you have implants, its vital to know your breasts. As daft as it may sound, knowing your breasts could save your life. By knowing whats normal for you, spotting anything irregular is far easier. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, so its important to look after your breasts by checking them regularly.

Its important for those that have chosen to have breast implants to be able to identify their implants and residual scar tissue when performing their frequent self-examinations. It is useful to have your surgeon to help show you the implants and its edges, so you know exactly what it is you are feeling.

There are a few things to consider when self-examining of your breasts. The first being that you should not examine your breasts whilst youre still within the healing stage, up to 6 weeks post-operation. If you are unsure we advise you speak to your surgeon to ask when they feel is appropriate for you to start examining yourself. You should also be aware not to examine when your breasts are tender and/ or swollen, which tends to be when you are menstruating. It is also worth noting that some implant placements can push out the breast tissue, which can help make the breast self-examination easier.

What exactly am I looking for?

A painless, hard lump or mass that has irregular edges


Dimpling or puckering of the skin

Changes to the nipple:

In short, yes.

How Do Breast Implants Affect Mammograms

Breast cancers detected at smaller size in women with implants

Some implants are made from asilicone gel, while others are filled with a sterile saline solution. Bothtypes of implants can make mammograms a bit trickier. Silicone and saline canboth obstruct the view of the medical equipment that captures the images,meaning that it will be difficult to see whether there are any abnormal changesof the breast tissue behind the implant.

The positioning of theimplant can play a role as well. The plastic surgeon may place implants behindor in front of the pectoral muscle. Youll have a conversation with yoursurgeon about which technique is best suited to your particular situation. Ifthe implants are placed in front of the muscle, they will interfere with theview of the muscle and the tissue behind the muscle. Implants that are placedunder the pectoral muscle are less likely to obstruct the view.

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Palpable Cancers Detected At Smaller Size In Breasts With Implants

The researchers studied 48 patients with breast cancer developing after breast augmentation, along with a group of 302 women with breast cancer who did not have breast implants. Average time from breast augmentation to cancer diagnosis was 14 years. Data on the two groups of patients were analyzed to determine whether and how breast augmentation and the presence of implants affected the detection, staging, and treatment of breast cancer.

At diagnosis, the cancers were significantly smaller in women with breast implants: average size 1.4 centimeter, compared to 1.9 centimeter in women without implants. Of patients whose cancers were detected by the finding of a palpable massby either breast self-exam or clinical examthe average tumor size was 1.6 cm in the breast augmentation group versus 2.33 cm in the comparison group.

However, the rate of cancer detection by screening mammograms was lower for women with implants: 77.8 percent, compared to 90.7 percent in breasts without implants. Cancers tended to be diagnosed at an earlier stage in the breast augmentation group, although the difference was not statistically significant.

Breast cancer detection was unaffected by the type of breast implant , or whether the implant was placed over or under the pectoral muscle. There was some evidence to suggest that mammographic detection was more likely in breasts with saline-filled versus silicone-filled implants.

How Is A Mammogram Different If I Have Breast Implants

For a woman with breast implants, a standard 2D mammogram includes four extra pictures , called implant displacement views.

For these views, the technologist gently pushes the implant back toward the chest wall and brings the breast tissue forward and in front of the implant, Dr. Reddy said. This allows more of the breast tissue to be evaluated.

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Mammography Screenings Are Less Likely To Detect Breast Cancer In Women With Silicone Implants Than In Other Women Those Who Are Diagnosed With Cancer Have Bigger Tumours That Also More Often Spread To The Lymph Nodes

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in Norway and worldwide. In 2017, 3623 women received this diagnosis in Norway.

In recent decades, the number of women with cosmetic breast implants has increased in Norway.

Norwegian researchers wanted to find out if implants have any effect on the risk of having breast cancer detected.

They also wanted to investigate whether cancer develops differently in women with and without implants once they have been diagnosed. Now the results are clear.

Whats Involved In A Diagnostic Mammogram

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If your doctor prescribes a diagnostic mammogram, realize that it will take longer than a normal screening mammogram, because more x-rays are taken, providing views of the breast from multiple vantage points. The radiologist administering the test may also zoom in on a specific area of the breast where there is a suspicion of an abnormality. This will give your doctor a better image of the tissue to arrive at an accurate diagnosis.

In addition to finding tumors that are too small to feel, mammograms may also spot ductal carcinoma in situ . These are abnormal cells in the lining of a breast duct, which may become invasive cancer in some women.

These abnormal cells do not appear as a mass at all. Instead, they look like tiny grains of sand called microcalcifications. If these microcalcifications are grouped together and/or are in a row, this is a sign they might be DCIS. Not all DCIS findings progress into invasive cancer. There are studies currently being done to help determine which do to help physicians plan what treatment is best for a womans specific findings of DCIS inside the duct of the breast.

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Am I At Higher Risk For Breast Cancer Because Of My Breast Implants

Your risk for breast cancer doesnt change with implants. The same factors apply to women with and without breast implants: primarily age and family history.

For the record: Studies have shown that neither silicone nor saline implants cause breast cancer. The FDA has reported a link between implants and risk for a type of cancer called Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma, but those cases are extremely rare.

Next Steps For Women With Breast Implants

It is important for women undergoing breast cancer screening with implants to stay safe. If you are going to a cancer screening, remember to tell your doctor about your implants ahead of time to avoid complications.

Another important tip is to note any strange lumps or masses, changes in the implants, or . See a doctor if any of those issues appear.

Finally, if you develop breast implant cancer, you may be able to access compensation. to learn more.

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Breast Cancers Detected At Smaller Size In Women With Implants

  • Thursday, March 29, 2018

Breast augmentation with implants does not interfere with the ability to detect later breast cancersin fact, cancers may detected at a smaller size in breasts with implants, according to a study in the April issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery®, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons .

But mammography may be less likely to detect cancers in breasts with implants, according to the research by Michael Sosin, MD, of MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, Washington, DC, and colleagues. The study also shows some differences in breast cancer diagnosis and treatment in women who have had breast augmentation, including a higher rate of mastectomy.

Schedule Your Next Mammogram With Health Images

Breast implants and cancer: Is there a link?

Whether youre seeking a reliable clinic with experience doing mammograms for people with breast implants or are just due for your next mammogram, Health Images has you covered. Women should get annual mammograms after they turn 40, and a mammogram doesnt need a referral by a general physician.

Schedule a mammogram with Health Images by getting in touch with the location closest to you and take control of your health today.

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Detecting Breast Cancer When You Have Implants

Many women who undergo breast augmentation surgery often wonder how their implants will affect breast cancer prevention. Are there additional precautions women with breast implants need to take? The truth is, prevention methods for women with implants are slightly different than those without.

Here are some breast cancer prevention tips for women with implants:

Check your breasts regularly. Just as with women who dont have breast implants, self-examinations are important. In fact, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, 40 percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women finding a lump themselves. If you have breast implants, make sure that you are familiar with the way your breasts feel, so you can notice any abnormalities should they appear.

Many women with implants have actually reported that self-examinations were easier after their breast augmentation surgery.

Get a mammogram. Most women start getting annual mammograms at age 40. A mammogram is a low-dose x-ray that allows doctors to see changes in breast tissue. Mammograms can be used to detect breast cancer in women who dont show any signs or symptoms of the disease.

There are cases, however, where a womans implants have obscured the mammogram images, making it harder for the doctor to see any abnormalities. For this reason, its important to make sure that the radiologist performing the mammogram has experience performing and reading mammograms of women with breast implants.

Will The Mammogram Exam Damage My Implant

If this question is on your mind, youre not alone. During a mammogram your breast is compressed. Ive had patients come here that are concerned youre going to pop my implant, says Dr. Walters. But we have special views where we can push the implant up out of the way and then we pull the breast in so were compressing the breast. There are other imaging options if the implant cant be moved enough to X-ray all of the breast tissue. Some patients may need an ultrasound or MRI, both of which can be used to screen for breast cancer.

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Implants Are Associated With A Rare Type Of Cancer

Women with implants are at risk of developing a rare type of lymphoma called breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma, or BIA-ALCL. The FDA says it has received 457 reports of this cancer, including nine patient deaths. At least 310 of these cases involved textured implants.

The FDA is conducting a review of implant safety concerns. In March 2019, an advisory panel held a two-day hearing on the benefits and risks of the implants. The agency also issued warning letters to two implant makers for failing to conduct long-term safety studies.

BIA-ALCL symptoms include pain, lumps, swelling, or breast asymmetry. Treatment usually involves removing the implants and surrounding tissue. Sometimes chemotherapy and radiation are required.

When Should Women Start Screening For Breast Cancer

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As women get older, doctors recommend that they start getting regular mammograms. This type of imaging is the most common breast cancer screening. The current guidelines from the American Cancer Society state that women should have the option of starting annual mammograms at age 40 and definitely start them by age 45. They can switch to getting a screening for breast cancer every two years at age 55 if they would like.

Of course, these guidelines vary depending on your breast cancer risk level. Those with a family history or genetic disposition to cancer should start their breast examinations earlier. Talk to your doctor about when you should start screening for breast cancer.

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Clearing Up Myths About Breast Implants And Mammograms

Doctors often hear from women who mistakenly believe that breast implants and mammograms dont mix. The truth is having breast implants should not prevent you from being able to get a mammogram or breast cancer screening.

There is one downside to having breast implants when it comes to breast imaging. The X-rays used in mammograms cannot go through silicone or saline implants well enough to see the area of breast tissue covered by the implant. But this isnt a reason to skip mammograms.

In a regular screening mammogram, X-ray pictures of each breast are taken, typically from two different angles. If you have implants, a few more X-rays are taken. This is why it’s important to seek out a breast care center or an expert who has a lot of experience doing a mammogram with breast implants present.

Skilled mammography technicians work daily with women who have breast implants and are experts at getting the best X-ray views for radiologists to examine, says Scripps Clinic radiation oncologist Ray Lin, MD, with Scripps MD Anderson Cancer Center. That means more peace of mind for you and less chances of you needing to redo a mammogram.

Myths and facts about mammograms and breast implants

Knowledge is an important, powerful tool in protecting your health. For a successful mammogram, it’s important to let your technician know if you have implants before scheduling an appointment.

Here are the facts on some common misconceptions about mammograms and breast implants:

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What Is The Best Method Of Screening For Breast Cancer

Regular high-quality screening mammograms and clinical breast exams are the most sensitive ways to screen for breast cancer.

Regular breast self-exam, or BSEthat is, checking ones own breasts for lumps or other unusual changesis not specifically recommended for breast cancer screening. In clinical trials, BSE alone was not found to help reduce the number of deaths from breast cancer.

However, many women choose to examine their own breasts. Women who do so should remember that breast changes can occur because of pregnancy, aging, or menopause during menstrual cycles or when taking birth control pills or other hormones. It is normal for breasts to feel a little lumpy and uneven. Also, it is common for breasts to be swollen and tender right before or during a menstrual period. Whenever a woman notices any unusual changes in her breasts, she should contact her health care provider.

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Changes Near Your Breasts

A thorough self-exam should include areas surrounding your breasts. Your breasts have a tail that extends upwards, towards your collar bone, and outwards towards your axilla , and tumors can occur in this area as well. Thus, when examining this area, its a good idea to feel upwards until you reach the collarbone and outwards until you reach into the axilla. If you feel lumps, unusual tenderness, or see any of the other changes mentioned above, have your areas of concern checked by a doctor.


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