Screening for Breast Cancer When Having Breast Implants: How It Works

Health Education
April 30, 2021
5 mins
Screening for Breast Cancer When Having Breast Implants: How It Works

It is something you’ve likely heard about but might still feel uncomfortable with: breast examination.  With around one in eight women developing breast cancer in her lifetime, it is important to start screening for breast cancer at the recommended time.  But what about if there are other factors involved, such as breast implants?  Here is everything you need to know about screening for breast cancer no matter what your situation.

When should women start screening for breast cancer?

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.

Are mammograms accurate for women with breast implants?

Mammograms are X-rays of breast tissue.  They are used to look for tumors, which may be benign or cancerous in the breast.  A breast examination that you do yourself can also sometimes detect tumors.  Both of these are made more difficult by breast implants.

Whether your implants are made of silicone or saline, they still block your breast tissue from being seen in a mammogram.  This means there is a possibility that breast cancer covered by the implants would not be detected.

Breast implants can be in front of or behind the pectoralis muscle.  Implants that are in front are especially challenging while screening for breast cancer, as the silicone needs to be moved out of the way to get a clear image.  If the implants are behind the muscle, it is easier for the person conducting the mammogram to maneuver them out of the way.  Be sure to let your doctor know in advance that you have implants if you are scheduling a mammogram so they can plan the best way to get clear X-rays.

Do breast implants increase my breast cancer risk?

No, having breast implants does not increase your risk of developing breast cancer.  The most common risk factors for the disease are age and genetic history.  In addition, your breast implants will not be damaged by getting a mammogram or other type of breast examination.  There is no need to worry about your implants or your health.

What is the best breast cancer screening for people with implants?

Because breast implants make mammograms more difficult, it is better to get a 3D mammogram than the traditional 2D screening for breast cancer.  3D images allow your doctor to see your breast tissue better, whether you have implants or not.  3D mammograms also give doctors more pictures to look through, increasing the probability that any tumors present will be seen.

Ultrasounds and MRIs can also be used in screening for breast cancer.  These are other good alternatives to 2D mammograms for people with breast implants.  Talk to your doctor about which type of screening is best for you.

Need a breast examination?

Do you need a 3D mammogram, breast ultrasound, or breast MRI but aren’t sure where to go?  Bass Medical Group has you covered.  Their state-of-the-art imaging center has all the latest technology for screening for breast cancer.  Call (925) 350-4044 to schedule your appointment today.