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Getting a Mammogram When You Have Breast Implants

Getting a Mammogram When You Have Breast Implants

Dr. Millicent Geers

Mammograms are x-rays of the breasts. These x-rays are then examined by radiologists — doctors trained to look for any suspicious findings consistent with breast cancer. Mammograms are essential for the early detection of breast cancer. In the United States, women are encouraged to start breast screening with mammograms at age 40. If you have a family history of early breast cancer or a genetic disposition to breast cancer, your screening may start even earlier. All women with breast tissue, whether augmented or not, should be screened for breast cancer.

It is important for all women considering breast implants and all women who currently have implants to know that having implants will affect your breast cancer screening. Breast implants can prevent some of your breast tissue from being fully visualized on your mammogram. Implants that have been placed in a pocket behind the pectoralis muscle will allow more visualization of your breast tissue than implants placed in a pocket in front of your pectoralis muscle. Extra views of the breast may be needed in order to achieve a more complete examination of your breasts, regardless of the pocket in which they are placed.

Breast implants are not associated with an increased risk of getting breast cancer. Your risk for breast cancer is tied to but not limited to such factors such as age, being overweight, having a family history of breast cancer, or inheriting certain genetic mutations linked to breast cancer.

On the other hand, the risk for cancer of the capsule that forms around the breast implant is increased with breast implant augmentation. This is capsule cancer is not the same as breast cancer. These cancers of the capsule include breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL), breast implant-associated squamous cell carcinoma (BIA-SCC), and other lymphomas.

If you have breast implants continue your routine screening. When you schedule your mammogram, make sure to tell the appointment scheduler that you have breast implants. When you arrive for your mammogram, again mention that you have breast implants.

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What to Know About Mammograms

What to Know About Mammograms

The National Breast Cancer Foundation estimates that 1 out of 8 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. Although that figure sounds scary, there is hope. When caught in its early stages, there is a 99% survival rate from breast cancer. Being aware of this disease empowers you to make an informed decision about your healthcare. Learn more during October, which is designated Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

What Is Breast Cancer?

The simplest definition of breast cancer is when cancer cells form in the breast tissue. Breast cancer can impact both men and women, but rates among men are much lower. According to the NBCF, breast cancer is the most common cancer found in women, except for skin cancers. Discovering breast cancer before it spreads outside of the breast tissue leads to better outcomes.   

How Is Breast Cancer Detected?

Doctors have many diagnostic tools to find breast cancer, from routine breast examinations to MRIs and ultrasound. Mammograms are considered one of the key tests for breast cancer. A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast tissue. It can be used to screen for signs of breast cancer before you even notice symptoms. If you notice changes in your breast tissue, it’s recommended to speak to your healthcare provider. 

What Does Having a Mammogram Feel Like?

During the mammogram, the breast is placed on a plastic plate of a special X-ray machine. Another plate is placed on top of the breast to flatten it and to hold in place while the image is being taken. Images need to be taken of both breasts, one at a time.  It only takes a few moments, but it can be uncomfortable. Don’t be scared or afraid of the pain. Technicians do everything they can to minimize the discomfort during a mammogram.

How Often Should You Get a Mammogram?

Guidelines for mammograms and other breast cancer screenings vary based on age and health history. The American Cancer Society recommends women ages 45 to 54 get a mammogram annually, with the choice to start as early as aged 40. You should talk to your healthcare provider about your breast cancer risk and screening tools to know what to look for and when you should get proactive about your health. If you keep putting it off, talk to one of the best mental health providers in Colorado Springs to move past your anxiety. Early detection of breast cancer saves lives.

Make an appointment for a breast cancer screening with medical providers in Colorado Springs & Monument. Take charge of your health. We have a wide range of concierge medical services, from women’s health to psychiatry.