Interference with Mammography

Possible Problems with Breast Cancer Detection

Regardless, if the breast implants you chose are saline or silicone gel implants, you should know that the breast implants will interfere with the ability of mammograms to evaluate all tissue of the breasts. Because one in nine women in the United States will develop breast cancer in her lifetime, mammographic screening for early diagnosis is important. The presence of a breast implant may, therefore, delay the diagnosis of breast cancer. It turns out, however, that women with breast implants who get breast cancer are generally diagnosed at the same stage as women without breast implants who get breast cancer. It is believed that self- breast examinations help facilitate self detection. Self exams off-set interference with mammography, as most breast cancers are first found by the woman herself. It is important to educate yourself before surgery of the risks and options available to you.

Self Breast Examination

It is important to understand that implants do not interfere with self-breast examinations. After having breast augmentation surgery, making a habit of examining yourself will only increase your chances of early breast cancer detection. Further, if a breast mass is found on self-examination but blocked by the implant on mammogram,there are other diagnostic tests available. An ultrasound, CT, and MRI can be used for testing and the results are not affected by an implant. Fortunately, most breast tissue is not blocked by the implant during mammography, but it is reassuring to know that other diagnostic tests exist if that were the case. It is important to have a mammogram but, educate yourself on self-breast examinations to increase your chances of early detection.

Implant Position

It is significant to know before breast augmentation surgery, that implant position affects interference with mammography. Implants placed above the muscle block about 25% of the breast tissue during mammography, whereas implants placed below the muscle block only 10-15%. Hence, mammography can visualize about 75% of breast tissue when the implants are placed above the muscle, and it can visualize about 85-90% of breast tissue when the implants are placed below the muscle. As such, mammography remains an important diagnostic procedure for all women over 40, regardless of whether or not they have implants.

Ecklund Technique

A special mammogram method called the Ecklund technique is designed for women with breast implants, and all mammography facilities in the United States are required to offer it.

If you have a mother or sister with breast cancer, your risk of developing breast cancer is increased, and you should choose to either have your implants placed below the muscle or forego breast augmentation all together.