Breast Implants and Breast Cancer

Breast cancer awareness

About one in eight American women will develop breast cancer in their lifetimes. More than 268,000 cases are diagnosed in the United States every year. With that frightening prevalence, it’s understandable that women who undergo breast augmentation will wonder whether their implants will affect mammograms and potential breast cancer treatments.

At the Center for Plastic Surgery at Castle Rock, our renowned breast surgeon Dr. Paul Rhee wants his patients to experience the self-confidence that comes from being happy with their breasts as well as the peace of mind of knowing they’ll still be able to detect and treat breast cancer. In honor of October being National Breast Cancer Awareness month, here’s what you need to know about how your implants will — and won’t — affect mammograms and treatment.

Do Breast Implants Make Me More Likely to get Breast Cancer?

Breast implants don’t affect your likelihood of breast cancer at all. They don’t make you more or less likely to get it. For women with and without breast augmentation, the risk factors remain the same: your chances of developing breast cancer largely depend on your age and family history of the disease.

A woman’s chances of developing breast cancer increase as she enters middle age. And approximately 3.1 million American women have a history of breast cancer, meaning they have been or are currently being treated. Their first-degree relatives — mothers, sisters, and daughters — are twice as likely to get breast cancer as women without the disease in their immediate family.

Do Breast Implants Interfere With Mammograms?

There is a small chance that a breast implant could obscure the mammography image of a tumor. However, there are several steps that you, Dr. Rhee, and your mammographer can take to mitigate that risk:

  • Choose submuscular implant placement: When you get breast augmentation, you can choose between subglandular implant placement, which puts the implant underneath the breast gland but above the pectoral muscle, or submuscular placement, which puts the implant underneath the muscle. Submuscular placement allows mammogram technicians to see most of the breast tissue without issue.
  • Inform your mammogram technician: When you’re scheduling a mammogram, be sure to tell the scheduler that you have breast implants. Tell the mammographer at your appointment, too. For women who haven’t had breast augmentation, mammograms typically take four images. If you have implants, your technician should take at least two extra pictures of each breast to see as much breast tissue as possible.
  • Choose a mammogram facility with experience screening women with implants: The more a mammogram technician works with women who’ve had breast augmentation, the better they will be at it. When you’re making an appointment, ask about the clinic’s experience with women with breast implants.

Will a Mammogram Damage My Implants?

Because mammograms involve compressing the breast, women often worry that pressure will damage their implants. Thankfully, this is incredibly rare.

Technicians perform “implant-displacement” mammograms on women with augmented breasts. These push the implant against the chest wall and pull the breast tissue over it to get a better view of the breast and compress it without damaging the implant.

Do Breast Implants Affect Self-Examinations?

Women should self-examine their breasts about once a month to check for lumps and other potential abnormalities. A recent study by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons found that women with breast implants can self-detect breast cancer at earlier stages than women without them.

The study found that, on average, the tumors detected in women with breast implants were almost 1 centimeter smaller than those in women who didn’t have augmentation.

Contact Our Denver Breast Surgeon Today

Dr. Rhee has almost 20 years of experience helping women achieve the bodies they’ve always wanted. He holds himself and his work to the highest standard. During your consultation, Dr. Rhee will answer all of your questions about breast augmentation, from the options for customizing your procedure to how to approach your future mammograms.

Dr. Rhee serves Castle Rock, Colorado Springs, Denver, and surrounding areas of Colorado. Call (303) 268-2222 today to schedule a consultation.