The actual number of women who have breast implants in the U.S. is unknown, but it is estimated that the number exceeds 6 million. This is more than 5% of the adult female population. There has been a 39% increase in breast augmentation since 2000, and it has become more popular in the younger population (high school graduation gift?).
This study reveals that even though breast implants can obscure a breast tumor and delay diagnosis of breast cancer, it does not change survival rate any more than women without implants. The concern of a late diagnosis is the possibility of the cancer spreading to the lymph nodes and to other tissues (metastasis). The survival rates in women who had breast implants and those who did not were similar.
The limitations of the study was the small sample size of only 5005 women. More larger studies most likely will be done.
In the meantime, digital mammograms are more accurate than traditional x-rays, and in some cases breast MRI’s are indicated.
Women with breast implants are also offered an additional image with the mammogram known as an Eklund view. This provides better imaging of the breast tissue behind and under-neath the implant as well as under the armpit where lymph nodes can be detected.
For more information, visit the American Cancer Society.