Breast Augmentation: Should We Discuss Impact on Cancer Detection?

stk212573rkeBreast augmentation continues to be the most popular form of plastic surgery, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Now comes a systematic review and meta-analysis (study of studies), published online on April 30 in the British Medical Journal that concludes cosmetic breast augmentation lowers the survival of women who are subsequently diagnosed with breast cancer.

My take: Breast implants can obscure mammogram images, which can decrease the ability of mammograms to find breast cancer. Still, mammograms are an effective way to screen for breast cancer, as a diagnostic examination, in women with breast implants. In addition, the results of the study are not definitive: Flaws include the fact that only a small number (12) of studies were evaluated. Of these, only 5 looked at survival. And many other studies (including some large, controlled ones conducted in the USA) have not found worse detection among those with implants.

Additional images should be added to the standard mammogram when implanted women have imaging. With additional implant displacement views (Eklund views), the screening examination becomes a diagnostic mammogram. These views can help visualize  breast tissue, although in any mammogram there is a certain amount of obscuring of the breast tissue because of the implant. If you have implants, you should find a facility that sees many women with breast implants and is familiar with interpreting these mammogram images. Digital mammography may also aid with visualization of breast tissue because the images can be enlarged and manipulated to a certain extent. I’m Dr. Michael Hunter.

The small print: The material presented herein is informational only, and is not designed to provide specific guidance for an individual. Please check with a valued health care provider with any questions or concerns. As for me, I am a Harvard- , Yale- and UPenn-educated radiation oncologist, and I practice in the Seattle, WA (USA) area. I feel genuinely privileged to be able to share with you. If you enjoyed today’s offering, please consider clicking the follow button at the bottom of this page.

Available now: Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Brain Glioma in 60 Minutes. Both can be found at the Apple Ibooks store. Coming Soon for iPad:  Understand Breast Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minuteable now: Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Brain Glioma in 60 Minutes. Thank you. 

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Harvard AB Yale MD UPenn Radiation Oncology Radiation Oncologist, Seattle area

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