ZocdocAnswersHow should a woman with breast implants screen for cancer?

Question

How should a woman with breast implants screen for cancer?

I'm a 27 years old woman with breast implants, and I'm having trouble screening myself for breast cancer. I'm worried the implants would keep me from feeling if there were irregularities or pain. Is there a special procedure that women with implants should follow?

Answer

Breast cancer is one of the leading health problems in women, especially older women, and therefore screening for breast cancer is a normal and important part of routine health checkups for women. There are many different technologies and techniques that are available for screening for breast cancers. Many women attempt to do as you are doing, which is the self breast exam. This involves feeling the breast systematically for lumps, usually once a month or so. Breast implants, however, make the self breast exam much more difficult by compressing the breast tissue against itself. However, many clinical studies now throw doubt on the value of the self breast exam as a technique for screening for breast cancer. Much more important is the clinical breast exam. This is an exam performed by your primary care doctor or OB / GYN doctor, usually every few years in someone of your age range. Therefore you can probably dispense with the self breast exam and rely instead on your doctor to perform an exam for you at your yearly physical examination. As you get older, after 40 or 50 years, you will also need to get mammograms, which can be performed in people with breast implants as long as special techniques are employed.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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