1. Implants can hide breast cancer on a screening mammogram
The X-rays used in mammograms don’t sufficiently penetrate saline or silicone. So, depending on where a cancer is located, it can be tougher to find on a mammogram. There is a risk of missing a possible cancer on screening mammogram particularly if it is behind the implant. For this reason, it is important to inform your technologist that you have implants so they can adjust their technique.
2. Breast Ultrasound is a valuable imaging tool for screening with implants
Breast ultrasound visualizes not only the breast tissue and its contents but also can penetrate and image behind the implant and also examine the implant walls and its contents to determine implant rupture. The obvious advantage of this is that both the breast as well as the implants can be evaluated at the same time. Breast ultrasound is also pain free and safe as it uses no radiation. The majority of patients experience no pain or discomfort during the procedure. As ultrasound images the breast in real-time, any masses that may be detected can be immediately evaluated for blood supply which assists the Radiologist in further qualifying the mass to determine the likelihood of malignancy.
3. Always inform the mammogram technologist of your implants.
This is important as the technologist will need to adjust their technique to image the breast. The technique for implants is a bit trickier and more involved. Informing your technologist before starting the examination would be to your benefit. When you make your appointment and again when you arrive at your appointment, tell the staff that you have breast implants.
4. Expect to have extra images taken.
This is to ensure as much breast tissue is imaged so as not to miss any possible cancer or other abnormalities.
5. Implant rupture with mammography is rare.
Worried that your implant might burst under compression?
It’s not a common occurrence.
A 2004 study in the Journal of Women’s Health examined problems with mammography for women with breast implants. When researchers reviewed adverse events reported to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), they identified just 44 incidents involving breast implant rupture with mammography compared to almost 300,000 women who undergo breast augmentation each year.
If you have concerns about rupture, please inform your Radiologist as breast ultrasound can be offered instead.
6. Additional screening may be necessary.
Mammography remains the tool of choice for breast cancer screening. But sometimes your Radiologist may recommend additional imaging.
Breast ultrasound screening is used for women who are high risk of breast cancer or women who have dense breast tissue. If the radiologist has trouble seeing the breast tissue on mammogram because of the implants, “a screening ultrasound is a consideration.”
Ultrasound may reveal a small mass hidden by the implant that mammography cannot detect.
7. What you think is a lump might be your implant—but get it checked anyway.
Sometimes women with implants may feel a lump in their breast during a routine self-examination, but what they’re actually feeling is the implant itself. Implants can bulge and these bulges may mimic a lump or a mass. Any woman who feels a lump must get this checked out. Don’t assume it’s the implant and ignore it.
8. A woman who has implants is not at increased risk of developing breast cancer, but it does not prevent her from getting breast cancer.
Breast implants does not boost the risk of developing breast cancer and they don’t prevent it either. Breast cancer risk is tied to such factors as being older, being overweight, having a family history of breast cancer, or inheriting certain genetic mutations linked to breast cancer. Whether you have implants or not – you still need to do your annual cancer screening.