Breast Augmentation and Cancer Screening
A study by the Group Health Cooperative, published in JAMA January 28, 2004 indicated that breast implants appear on mammograms as a white area that obliterates the breast tissue. Unable to view the breast tissue, screeners miss 22% more cancers in women with breast implants than in those without them.
While breast implants do “decrease the ability of mammography to detect breast cancer,” the same study also found that the tumors discovered in women with implants were, in fact, smaller than those found in women without implants.
Several theories were presented to explain this:
- Women with implants may have less breast tissue making detection of a lump easier.
- Tumors might be easier to detect because the implant provides a firm platform against which the tumor would be easier to feel.
- Women with breast implants are more diligent in checking their breasts than those without implants.
- Being more conscious of their bodies, women with implants may seek medical care if they detect even a small change.
Women with implants are encouraged to have regular mammograms, and to request one if they detect any abnormality. Seek out a facility that is experienced in using the implant displacement view. This technique moves the implant aside to get a clear view of the breast tissue.