New York—According to a story that aired on WCBS-TV in New York recently, many women worry that their breast implants will make it hard for mammograms to detect breast cancer.
Indeed, their worry may well be warranted: A new study out of Philadelphia’s Thomas Jefferson University shows that the diagnosis of breast cancer is often delayed in women who have breast implants. According to the CBS story, about 300,000 breast implants were done in 2005.
The story included an interview with Kristen Brill, M.D., of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, who said, “Implants may make it a little more challenging to image the breast accurately.”
In the past, she said, women with implants who were eventually diagnosed with breast cancer would usually have been treated with a mastectomy.
“There was probably some concern about proximity of the tumor to the implant capsule,” said Dr. Brill in the interview, “and whether the implant could be radiated successfully and still give a good cosmetic result.”
But she says that’s no longer necessarily the case. Dr. Brill cited a Mayo Clinic study in which researchers looked at a small group of implant patient who were treated with breast-sparing surgery and radiation. The study found that none of the women had a relapse of their cancer and that 85 percent of the implanted breasts looked good cosmetically.
Dr. Brill said she has performed such surgery.
“We were able to successfully do a lumpectomy with radiation with a good cosmetic result,” she said.