Medical researchers have been testing and implementing newer techniques for imaging the breast to screen for breast cancer. Researchers believe that in the near future, breast-imaging techniques will be able to distinguish malignant tissue from benign, so there will be no need to remove tissue to reach a diagnosis. Cancers could be detected earlier and only the malignant tissue would be removed.
Even with improved breast imaging techniques, women themselves during a Breast Self Exam discover most breast abnormalities. Every woman should be familiar with the way her breasts feel, so if there is a change, she will be aware of it. The FDA estimates that up to two million women have breast implants in the United States. These women need to be educated so they are more aware and diligent when performing a Breast Self Exam.
In 2013, an estimated 232,340 new cases of invasive breast cancer were expected to be diagnosed among US women, as well as an estimated 64,640 additional cases of in situ breast cancer. That year, approximately 39,620 US women were expected to die from breast cancer. Only lung cancer accounts for more cancer deaths in women.
These are sobering numbers, especially when ninety-six percent of breast cancers can be eliminated and cured with early detection. Professional breast exams and mammograms, in addition to monthly breast self exams, dramatically increase a woman's chances of finding a tumor in the breast while it is still small. Research reveals that the mortality rate could decrease by 30 percent if all women age 50 and older had yearly mammograms.
Some women think that mammograms are not necessary nor advised if they have had breast augmentation. Many women are also uncomfortable examining their own breasts because of the changes in texture they feel with implants in place.
Breast implants compress breast tissue and can make it more difficult to feel for irregularities in the breast. It can also be difficult to examine a breast if scar tissue has formed around the implant. Women should learn to know the difference, by feel, between breast tissue, the implant, and any scar tissue present.
Mammograms are critical in detecting breast cancer, and women with implants should have mammograms regularly, particularly those over 40. Compression of the breast during the exam is unlikely to harm the implant, however women with implants should prepare for a session that is more extensive and possibly more uncomfortable than the standard mammogram.
Studies indicate there is no increased risk of breast cancer in women with implants. But women with implants need to take the initiative and ask their physicians to show them the most effective way to examine their breasts. Thorough breast exams, coupled with mammography, remain the best techniques to diagnose breast cancer at an earlier, treatable stage.
— by Diane Gibby • M.D., P.A., F.A.C.S
About Dr. Gibby
Diane Gibby, M.D., P.A., F.A.C.S Licensed in Texas, Dr. Diane Gibby is board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) and the founder of The Women's Center for Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery. She is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), American Medical Association (AMA), Texas Society of Plastic Surgeons (TSPS), Dallas County Medical Society (DCMS) and the Board Certified Plastic and Cosmetic Surgeons of Dallas. She is also a Fellow in the American College of Surgeons (F.A.C.S.). Dr. Gibby's office is located at Medical City Dallas, Building C, Suite 820, (972) 566-6323. Individuals interestedin brochures or names of qualified plastic surgeons in their area may call the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons at 1-800-635-0635.