Breast Implants And Cancer: 3 Things Women Over 40 Need To Know

Are your considering breast implants? If you're unhappy with your breasts, implants can be a great way to improve your appearance and boost your confidence. However, if you're over the age of 40, you should also consider how breast implants work with regard to breast cancer detection. The probability of breast cancer increases as women age. Catching breast cancer early through a mammogram is one of the biggest keys to successfully battling the disease. However, when you get implants, you're introducing a new substance into your body. That can sometimes cause some issues with the detection and treatment process. Here are a few important things to consider.

Implants can make mammograms hard to read. On a mammogram, both silicone and gel implants can have an opaque, white appearance. That makes it hard for medical professionals to read mammogram results. The lumps and distortions that would normally indicate cancer may be obscured by the whiteness of the implants. A big factor is whether the implants are over or under the chest muscles. Implants under the muscles sometimes have less interference. Mammograms are still worthwhile with implants, but the mammography professional may need more images to get an accurate reading. You may want to talk to your plastic surgeon about how to get implants placed that can still make mammograms effective.

Implant rupture can be exacerbated during a mammogram. In a mammogram, pressure is placed on your breasts in order to get clear and effective images. That pressure alone isn't likely to cause a rupture. However, most implants do rupture at some point. If your implants have already ruptured slightly, the pressure from a mammogram could cause it to rupture even faster. If you're at the age where you need annual mammograms, you may want to also schedule regular checkups with your plastic surgeon to make sure the implants are in good condition.

Implants can make treatment more complicated. If a lump is detected during a mammogram, you may be treated with removal of the lump and radiation. However, that may be more difficult if the implant is above the chest muscle. Then, your surgeon could have to get past the implant to effectively remove the lump. Additionally, radiation can sometimes cause implants to harden and even shrink. If a lump is found and you do need treatment, you may be best served to have the implants removed before a lumpectomy and radiation.

If your family has a history of breast cancer or if you're just concerned about the risk, talk to your surgeon. You can also talk to a mammography specialist at a place like Radiology Affiliates Imaging. They can help you understand what kinds of implants may be best for you.