The age-old question remains, are breast implants linked to cancer? As one of the most frequently asked and researched questions by women, researchers recommend caution when reviewing the widely available and vastly different studies, findings, and reports that are out there. The latest findings by the British Medical Journal, suggesting that breast cancer patients appear to have a higher rate of death if they have breast implants, should be taken with a grain of salt. Although there appears to be a definite link between breast implants and breast cancer survival rates, it may not be what you think. In fact, the suggestion of these findings, at first glance, can be misleading and it takes a further look into the study to recognize the real association between breast implants and breast cancer.
Do Breast Implants Cause Cancer
When initial fears by the public raised the question, “Do breast implants cause cancer?” scientists around the world began researching the effects of silicon and saline breast implants on women’s health. Ultimately, any link to breast cancer was eventually ruled out.
With repeated studies clearly indicating no correlation to the etiology of breast cancer, how then do we arrive at breast cancer survival rates being affected by breast implants? This latest research does not propose that the breast implants themselves cause the breast cancer, but that they merely lower the chances of women detecting breast cancer at an early stage. As is true with all cancerous conditions, early detection and treatment provide the greatest chance for survival.
Breast Implants and Tumor Growth
According to specialists, the breast implants make it harder to notice the manifestation of and growth of tumors within the breast during routine screenings. While there are improved technologies and screening techniques to compensate for saline and silicone implants, there is still breast tissue which remains concealed secondary to the radio-opaque shadows created by the implants. Hence, breast cancer can sneak into these areas undetected and grow unnoticed. The study reports that women who have breast implants have a 26% higher risk of breast cancer diagnosis at a later stage than women without breast implants. A secondary study looking at the outcomes and prognoses of breast cancer patients found that women who had breast implants had a 38% increased risk of death than women who did not have implants.
Direct Relationship Between Implants and Cancer?
The direct correlation? The prognosis of any cancer is directly related to the time of detection. If cancer can be detected at an earlier stage, the likelihood of a healthier outcome is increased. Therefore, if breast cancer is more difficult to discover in women with breast implants and the time of detection occurs at a later stage in the cancer, then yes, there is a definite link between breast cancer detection and breast implants. However, such a conclusion should be met with further research and sensible interpretation. For women with breast implants or those thinking of getting implants, you can mitigate your risks by performing regular breast self-examinations, having annual mammography screenings, and speaking with your physician about your concerns.