October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Each year over 175,000 women (and 2000 men!) are diagnosed with breast cancer. Approximately 1 in 9 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Aside from skin cancer, it is the most common cancer in women. So how does this affect you if you have breast implants?
It's estimated that over 5 million women have breast implants today. If you have breast implants, how do you screen yourself for breast cancer, and how is this different from someone without implants?
The major rule is that you should follow the American Cancer Society guidelines for the early detection of breast cancer. Here they are:
Women ages 20-39: Monthly breast self-exam, clinical exam by your physician every three years.
Women ages 40 and up: Monthly breast self-exam, clinical exam by your physician every year, mammogram yearly.
Women at high risk (close family history of breast cancer, etc.) should discuss with their physician whether a yearly MRI may be indicated.
1. Breast implants can limit the amount of breast tissue that can be seen on a mammogram. If you have implants, then make sure your mammogram center takes extra pictures (called the Ecklund technique) to allow the radiologist to see as much of your breast tissue as possible.
2. Some physicians believe breast implants can actually facilitate (or improve) the ability to detect a breast mass on examination.
3. Studies show that breast implants do not increase your risk of breast cancer, delay your diagnosis of breast cancer, or worsen your prognosis once breast cancer is diagnosed.
4. If you are unsure how to perform a breast self-exam on implanted breasts, be sure to ask your plastic surgeon.