Breast 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.
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