Breast Implants Do Not Delay Diagnosis of Breast Cancer

Breast Implants Do Not Delay Diagnosis of Breast Cancer

According to a recent article published in the British Journal of Cancer, breast implants do not appear to delay the diagnosis of breast cancer.

Breast cancer affects over 200,000 women annually in the United States alone. When breast cancer is diagnosed and treated in its early stages, it is considered highly curable with standard therapies. However, breast cancer that has spread from its site of origin to distant and/or several sites in the body has overall poor long-term survival rates. Therefore, physicians and researchers place great emphasis on screening and prevention of breast cancer, in order to detect and treat cancer in its most curable stages or prevent the development of breast cancer altogether.

Concern has arisen among women and physicians regarding the possibility that breast implants may interfere in the detection of breast cancer. This could result in diagnosis at a later stage and ultimately a risk of decreased survival in these women. Researchers from Denmark recently conducted a clinical study to evaluate the effects of breast implants and the diagnosis of breast cancer. This study involved nearly 3,000 women who had breast implants between 1973 and 1997. Of these women, 23 developed breast cancer. Researchers compared these women to women without breast implants who had been diagnosed with breast cancer and registered in the Danish Breast Cancer Cooperative Group''s register ("control group"). There was no difference in the stage at which breast cancer was diagnosed between women with breast implants and the control group. At a follow-up of over 6 years, there was also no difference in survival between the two groups of women.

The researchers concluded that, although this study involved a small number of women, breast implants do not appear to delay the detection and diagnosis of breast cancer. Furthermore, long-term survival in women with breast cancer does not appear to be affected by breast augmentation. Women with breast implants may wish to discuss the results of this study as well as a screening regimen for early detection of breast cancer with their physician.

Reference: Holmich L, Mellemkjaer L, Gunnarsdottir A, et al. Stage of breast cancer at diagnosis among women with cosmetic breast implants. British Journal of Cancer. 2003;88:832-838.