We all know that breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women after lung cancer. The numbers are staggering with just under 50,000 people die from breast cancer each year, however thousands survive thanks to early detection with breast examinations. Although many gains and research has improved the numbers of breast cancer survivors, it’s still very important to make women aware that breast exams are vital even and should not be avoided because of their breast implants. So what is the situation with breast exams for patients with implants? Should you still get a breast exam and get the scoop of what a breast exam is still very important regardless of your breast implants.
How often and when should you check?
Whether you have breast implants or are natural – it is equally as important to perform regular breast exams. For patients both with breast implants and natural it is recommended that you perform self-examination once a month.
Between the ages of 20 and 39 it is advised that you do a self breast exam monthly and have a clinical breast exam every three years.Once you reach the age of 40 and up to 49 you should do a monthly self breast exam as well as an annual clinical breast exam and a mammogram every 1-2 years.Over the age of 50 you should continue to do monthly self breast exams as well as an annual clinical breast exam and annual mammograms.
Breast Self Examinations are important
Yes, women should be performing breast self examinations on a monthly basis whether they have breast implants or not.
However, there are some guidelines for women with breast implants when doing a breast self examination. To help with the examination you should ask your surgeon to help you distinguish between your implant and your breast.
When you perform the breast self examination press firmly inwards at the edge of the breast implants so that you can feel the ribs beneath – checking carefully for any unusual lumps or bumps.
It is essential that you are careful when doing this and try not to squeeze the valve on the implant too much as this can cause the implant to leak and deflate.
If you notice any lumps or bumps then you should speak to your physician as soon as possible so that they can look at it more closely and perform a biopsy if necessary. During the biopsy, the surgeon will be very careful not to puncture the implant.
Regular breast self examinations are very important as breast cancer can happen in any one of any age. Early detection is the key to surviving breast cancer – and many patients who detect breast cancer in the early stages are very likely to survive.
Mammograms are a necessary process of the early detection of breast cancer. As we mentioned before, you should have a mammogram at least annually over the age of 50 – and no less than every three years below that age.
A mammogram is the most reliable form of detection of breast cancer – and it involves taking a detailed image of the inside of the breast using X-rays.
If you have had breast implants or reconstruction due to a previous breast cancer ordeal then you may have been left with either only some or none of your natural breast tissue. If you have any remaining breast tissue you should still have a mammogram performed on both breasts.
Unfortunately breast implants can cause interference with mammograms. They can make it more difficult for any abnormalities or deformations to be noticed in the image. Breast implants can make it both difficult to take and read a mammogram.
Precautions with Mammograms
There are precautions that should be taken when having a mammogram with breast implants. During a mammogram your breasts are subjected to hard compression which can potentially cause the implant to rupture during the procedure. It is rare, but still a risk. To minimize the risk, you should ask to work with a mammography technician who is experienced at working with women with breast implants.
Contact your physician to discuss with them about any additional views that may be required during a mammogram. Detection of breast cancer may be more difficult with breast implants as can hide suspicious lesions as well as making it harder to find lumps and bumps in the breast. This is very important to keep in mind. But, rest assured that women with breast implants are not more likely to get breast cancer, this is entirely a myth. You should definitely like with every woman, get check every year regardless of breast implants or not.
We hope that you take this advice seriously as we encourage and want all women to have a safe and healthy life for themselves and their family.
Please feel free to contact Dr. Mirrafati to discuss any concerns you have during your FREE consultations at the office.