Can breast implants make it harder to find breast cancer during mammography?

Answer From Sandhya Pruthi, M.D.

Yes. Breast implants, either saline or silicone, can obscure mammogram images, decreasing the ability of mammograms to reveal breast cancer.

Breast implants are most often placed above the muscle (subglandular) and implants in this location can potentially reduce the radiologist's ability to interpret the mammogram because not all the breast tissue can be visualized. Implants placed beneath the muscle (subpectoral) are much less likely to interfere with the radiologist's ability to interpret the mammogram. Still, studies show that mammograms are an effective way to screen for breast cancer in women with breast implants.

If you have breast implants, you can take steps to make your mammogram more successful, such as:

  • Find a facility that sees many women with breast implants. Ask your doctor for a referral to a clinic where radiologists have experience performing and reading mammograms of women with breast implants.

    Ask about the clinic staff's experience when you make your appointment. You'll want to know that the clinic obtains special mammogram views in addition to the standard mammogram images to better evaluate the breast tissue.

  • Speak up about your breast implants at your appointment. When you make your appointment and again when you arrive at your appointment, tell the staff that you have breast implants.
  • If you have noted changes in your breast or if you have concerns, tell your doctor promptly. Your doctor will talk with the radiologist to decide whether you need additional imaging or breast ultrasound.

There's a slight risk that your breast implants may rupture during a mammogram. But the benefits of mammography in the early detection of breast cancer outweigh this risk.

Aug. 01, 2020 See more Expert Answers

See also

  1. Alternative and complementary medicine for metastatic breast cancer
  2. Atypical hyperplasia of the breast
  3. Breast cancer
  4. Breast cancer chemoprevention
  5. Breast Cancer Education Tool
  6. Breast cancer radiation: Can it cause dry skin?
  7. Infographic: Breast Cancer Risk
  8. Breast cancer staging
  9. Breast cancer types
  10. Breast cysts
  11. Breast cysts: What role does caffeine play?
  12. Breast pain
  13. Infographic: Breast Reconstruction Options
  14. Conflicting mammogram results: What can I do?
  15. COVID-19 vaccine: Should I reschedule my mammogram?
  16. Dense breast tissue
  17. Dragon Boats and Breast Cancer
  18. Enlarged breasts in men (gynecomastia)
  19. Fibroadenoma
  20. Fibrocystic breast changes: Linked to breast cancer?
  21. Fibrocystic breasts
  22. Galactorrhea
  23. Gene expression profiling for breast cancer: What is it?
  24. Genetic Testing for Breast Cancer
  25. Genetic testing for breast cancer: Psychological and social impact
  26. Get the support you need when you have metastatic breast cancer
  27. Hypercalcemia
  28. Inflammatory breast cancer
  29. Invasive lobular carcinoma
  30. Metastatic breast cancer
  31. Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS)
  32. Male breast cancer
  33. Mammary duct ectasia
  34. Mammogram
  35. Mammogram: Can it find cancer in dense breasts?
  36. Mammogram guidelines: What are they?
  37. Mastitis
  38. Metastatic breast cancer: Should you get a second opinion?
  39. Paget's disease of the breast
  40. Palliative care: Who is it for?
  41. Paulas story A team approach to battling breast cancer
  42. Pink Sisters
  43. Recurrent breast cancer
  44. Relationships and metastatic breast cancer
  45. The Long Race Beating Cancer
  46. Thyroid guard: Do I need one during a mammogram?
  47. Treatment options for metastatic breast cancer
  48. Mammogram for breast cancer — What to expect
  49. Weight Loss After Breast Cancer
  50. What is metastatic breast cancer?
  51. Working with your doctor when you have metastatic breast cancer: Interview with a Mayo Clinic expert.