The Effects of Breast Implants on Mammography

August 13, 2014

Many breast cancer authorities, like the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute, encourage women to get regular screening for breast cancer using mammography. The evidence present today still attests to the accuracy and clinical significance of mammography as the single best tool to screen for breast cancer1,3. Mammography is done by firmly pressing the breast in between two plates and scanning x-rays throughout the breast to create an image. Because of the nature of mammography, there are certain complications involved with women who have breast implants because the implants obscure the x-ray image2,3.

It has been shown in studies that having implants can significantly increase the chances of a false-negative mammography, meaning the patient actually had breast cancer, and the mammography failed to diagnose it2.

Implants within the breast make it difficult to image accurately with mammography and can lead to a delayed diagnosis4. As stressed in many other blog posts, early detection is the single best defense against breast cancer.  Because of these later diagnoses, many breast cancer patients with implants require mastectomy rather than a simple lumpectomy.

Those who are familiar with the experience of mammography are aware of the pressure it puts on your breasts. This pressure is sometimes great enough to cause implant rupturing, which can lead to further health complications1. For this reason, and for the reasons above, it is probably best to avoid mammography as the diagnostic screening of choice if you have breast implants2,4. Breast MRI, Breast thermography, and ultrasound are all viable options for those with breast implants.


  1. Brown L, Ferlo Todd J, Do Lou HM. (2004). Breast implant adverse events during mammography: reports to the Food and Drug Administration. Journal of Women’s Health, 13(4): 371-8.
  2. Cahan, AC, Ashikari R, Pressman P, et al. (1995). Breast cancer after breast augmentation with silicone breast implants. Annals of Surgical Oncology, 2:2-12.
  3. Karanas YL, Leong DS, Da Lio A, et al. Surgical treatment of breast cancer in previously augmented patients. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 111:1078.
  4. Lavigne E., Holowaty EJ, Pan SY, Villeneuve PJ, Johnson KC, Fergusson DA, Morrison H, & Brisson J. Breast cancer detection and survival among women with cosmetic breast implants: Systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. British Medical Journal 2013: 346: f2339. doi: 10.1136/bmj.f2399


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