Can Breast Cancer Implants Adversely Affect Survival in Women who Develop Breast Cancer?

logo1267406_mdAlthough cosmetic breast implants have become popular, some studies have suggested that implants can make it more difficult to detect breast cancer at an early stage because they create a shadow on mammograms that can obscure some breast tissue. Thus, researchers evaluated whether the stage at which breast cancer is diagnosed and post diagnosis survival differed between women with and without cosmetic breast implants. First, the results of 12 observational studies published after 1993 in the U.S., northern Europe and Canada were analyzed. Results showed that women with cosmetic implants had a 26% increase risk of being diagnosed at a later stage of breast cancer than women without implants. This group of studies were followed by an analysis of 5 additional ones that found that women with cosmetic breast implants had a 38% greater risk of death from breast cancer than women without implants.  The authors warned that the findings should be “interpreted with caution as some studies included in the meta-analysis on survival did not adjust for potential confounders.”  However, despite the limitations they said “the accumulating evidence suggests that women with cosmetic breast implants who develop breast cancer have an increased risk of being diagnosed as having non-localized breast tumors more frequently than do women with breast cancer who do not have implants.”  They further said that despite the need for further research current evidence suggests that cosmetic breast implants “adversely affect breast cancer specific survival following the diagnosis of such disease.”

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