Breast Cancer Risk Increased By Breast Implants?

In this video, Dr. Harnress addresses a common question: Can breast implants increase my risk for breast cancer? As Dr. Harness states, the answer is no. Learn more about breast cancer and implants in the video below.

Jay K. Harness, MD FACS: I live in sunny Southern California. I have been here about eight and a half years and this is the land of breast augmentation. So I bet you know where I’m going with this.

I have been asked the question by multiple patients, “Can these wonderful breast implants that I have, Dr. Harness, increase my risk for breast cancer?” The answer simply stated is ‘no’.

Now, could it make it a little more difficult to make a diagnosis of breast cancer and when mammograms are done with women with breast implants, we have two main views that are done: craniocaudal – squishing the breast up and down, and medial/lateral oblique – squishing from the side.

Where I work, in most breast centers that I am aware of, do two different sets of mammograms on each side, obviously, where you have the implants. Our first is with the implants in place and then second is called the extraction views with the implant, believe it or not, is the pulled out of the way, the breast tissue is put back in compression so the implant ,if you will, is out of the picture.

Is this little less optimal? In other words, are there certain areas of the breast, because the breast is being pushed forward by the implant or because of the technique of the extraction views, where you may not get sort of perfect imaging? The answer is ‘yes, there are some, if you will, sort of blind spots or areas that are little more difficult to image with the implants in place’.

So what we do about that? Well, we are not going to get rid of the breast implants, so what we want do is to make sure that my patients and you are doing very careful breast self-examinations each month. If you’re still having your periods, during and after your period is a good time to do breast self-examination.

One of the advantages, the breast implants underneath the breast tissue is compressing things upward so the breast tissue is sort of thinned out. So when you are feeling with your hands, it is actually a little bit easier to feel distinct lumps in the breast.

So the take home message is ‘no, breast implants do not cause breast cancer’, but what is important, obviously, is getting your mammograms done regularly, get it done in a center that knows how to do extraction views, and really importantly, continue doing breast self-examination, and if any findings come up, see your component provider right away.

Dr. Jay K. Harness is a board certified surgeon currently treating patients at St. Joesph Hospital in Orange, CA. Dr. Harness specializes in complete breast health, breast cancer surgery, oncoplastic reconstruction, genetic screening, management of breast health issues, risk assessment and counseling. Dr. Harness is the medical director for Breast Cancer, and guides this first ever social media show’s information by drawing on his former leadership experience as the President of the American Society of Breast Surgeons and Breast Surgery International. Dr. Harness graduated from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 1969 and spent time early on in his career at the University of Michigan Medical Center.

This information should not be relied upon as a substitute for personal medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Use the information provided on this site solely at your own risk.  If you have any concerns about your health, please consult with a physician.