Mammograms are an essential tool for the early detection of breast cancer. However, women with breast implants may worry about how the implants will affect the results of their mammograms. This concern is understandable, as breast implants can make mammography more challenging. In this blog, we will discuss how breast implants affect mammograms and what women with breast implants should know about mammography.
Breast Implants and Mammography
Mammography is an imaging test that uses low-dose X-rays to examine the breast for signs of cancer. During a mammogram, the breast is compressed between two plates to flatten and spread the tissue, allowing for a clear image to be captured.
Breast implants can make mammography more challenging because they can hide some of the breast tissue, making it more difficult to detect small tumors. The mammogram images can also be distorted because the implant can block some of the X-rays. As a result, mammography is not as accurate in women with breast implants as it is in women without implants.
However, this does not mean that mammography is not effective in detecting breast cancer in women with breast implants. In fact, mammography is still the best screening tool for breast cancer, even for women with breast implants.
To ensure that mammography is as accurate as possible for women with breast implants, radiologists use special techniques to get a clear view of the breast tissue. These techniques may include:
- Eklund technique: This technique is used when a woman has breast implants placed over the chest muscle. During a mammogram, the implant is moved out of the way, and the breast tissue is compressed and imaged separately.
- Implant displacement views: In this technique, the breast is compressed from different angles, allowing the radiologist to get a clear view of the breast tissue surrounding the implant.
- Additional images: In some cases, additional images may be taken to get a better view of the breast tissue. These images may include ultrasound, MRI, or 3D mammography.
Preparing for Mammography with Breast Implants
If you have breast implants, there are some things you should do to prepare for your mammogram to ensure that the images are as clear and accurate as possible. These may include:
- Choose the right facility: When scheduling your mammogram, make sure to choose a facility that has experience in imaging women with breast implants.
- Inform the radiologist: Inform the radiologist that you have breast implants before the mammogram. This will allow them to take the appropriate steps to get clear images.
- Bring your implant information: Bring information about your breast implants, including the manufacturer, model number, and implant size, to your mammogram appointment.
- Avoid caffeine: Avoid caffeine before your mammogram, as it can make the breast tissue more sensitive and increase discomfort during the exam.
- Wear a two-piece outfit: Wear a two-piece outfit to your mammogram appointment, as you will need to undress from the waist up.
- Ask questions: If you have any questions or concerns about your mammogram, don’t hesitate to ask the radiologist or technologist.
Breast Implants and Breast Cancer Screening
Breast cancer screening is important for all women, regardless of whether or not they have breast implants. In addition to mammography, there are other breast cancer screening tests that women can undergo, including:
- Breast self-exams: Women should perform monthly breast self-exams to check for any changes in their breast tissue.
- Clinical breast exams: Women should have a clinical breast exam performed by a healthcare provider every one to three years, starting at age 20.
- Breast MRI: Women at high risk for breast cancer
- Breast ultrasound: it is often used to further evaluate abnormalities detected on a mammogram.