Is There a Link Between Breast Implants and Cancer?

Fortunately, there is no real evidence to support that women who have breast implants have an increased risk of forming breast cancer. There is, however, a correlation (a small percent) of women who specifically got textured breast implants who have developed a rare cancer, lymphoma (not breast cancer). (Ganch Plastic Surgery has never used textured implants)

breast implants linked to cancer?

Textured breast implants are a type of breast implant that were created to help the implant stay in place. The implants textured surface reduces shifting and repositioning. The rare cancer associated with textured breast implants is not a type of breast cancer. The cancer that some women are concerned about when implants are involved is anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL), a cancer that affects the immune system.

In a few cases of ALCL, it was reported that the cancer cells were isolated in the scar tissue or fluid near the breast implant. Unfortunately, in some of the other cases of ALCL, the cancer spread throughout the body. Thankfully, if you have gotten breast implants or are thinking about getting breast implants in New Jersey, Dr. Ganchi, Harvard trained board certified plastic surgeon, does not use and has never used textured breast implants for augmentation procedures.

Breast Cancer Basics

Even though there appears to be zero correlation between getting breast implants and developing breast cancer, women whether they have breast implants or not may be at risk for getting breast cancer. Breast cancer, like most cancers, occurs when cells in the body multiply faster than they die off. In general, a healthy body regulates the rate by which cellular growth happens.

In the event an abnormal cell occurs and divides over and over again in the breast tissue or milk duct, a tumor will form. Once a lump in the breast is large enough to detect, it’s probably been advancing for quite a while. Though some cancers are more aggressive and grow much faster, other tumors are slow growing and may have been developing for 7 to 10 years before they are even noticed. Getting screened for breast cancer can be an important step in the early detection that can save your life.

Mammogram Screening With Breast Implants

Mammography technology used to take x-ray photographs of breast tissue has been used by doctors for the last fifty years to screen for breast cancer. This important tool is useful in breast cancer diagnosis and evaluation of women recovering from cancer. Some women begin getting mammograms at age forty or even earlier if they are at risk for breast cancer. Check with your doctor about when and how often you should get a mammogram.

While mammograms are extremely effective in detecting areas of concern in women who have not had breast augmentations, this advanced technology does have some limitations in locating tumors on women who have breast implants. Because implants are made from silicone or saline, the x-rays do not always penetrate through the manufactured substance the same way it does the human body’s natural tissues, sometimes making tumors more difficult to find.

Knowing what your healthy breast feels like with an implant in place allows you to determine if something feels unusual. Breast self-examinations can be an important part of self-care and maintenance, especially for women who have had breast augmentation. Many women experience bumps or lumps and changes in their breasts that turn out to be nothing to be concerned about. Communicate with your doctor if you notice any new developments in the appearance or feel of your breasts including:

  • lumps
  • redness
  • rashes
  • itching
  • scaly or peeling skin
  • discharge
  • swelling

Self-breast examinations can be used as an early detection method for any problems relating to cancer.

A mammogram could present a slight challenge to some women who have had breast implants. Though it is rare, few women reported that their breast implants ruptured during the process of getting a mammogram. It is suggested that the ruptured implants may have been compromised or damaged prior to being compressed.

If you are scheduling an appointment to get a mammogram let the staff know that you have breast implants. Also, tell your mammogram technician that you have implants so they can be sure to optimize your placement in the x-ray machine. You may need to have additional images taken to ensure all angles of the breast are shown. An ultrasound could provide further information for some patients and may be prescribed for women with implants.

Considering Getting Breast Implants

If you are considering getting a breast augmentation you may prefer getting smooth saline or silicone implants versus textured breast implants to avoid being at risk for developing lymphoma. While hundreds of thousands of women each year have a positive experience as a result of getting breast implants, realistically, there are a few risks and factors to consider before getting a breast augmentation. Dr. Ganchi and his knowledgeable staff can discuss any concerns you may have around getting breast implants. Schedule an appointment to discuss the best procedure for you.