Cosmetic breast implants are becoming increasingly common. According to the latest statistics, almost 307,000 breast augmentation surgeries were done in the U.S. in 2011. This makes them one of the most common surgeries in the country. Compared to the early 1990s, the number of cosmetic implant surgeries performed last year has shown a quantum jump of 800%. However, questions still remain about the long term safety of this procedure.
A recent meta-analysis done by researchers from Canada has shown that women with cosmetic implants are more likely to suffer from a deadlier form of breast cancer compared to women without implants. In fact, they appear to be at a 38% higher risk of dying from breast cancer compared to women who do not have implants. The research was carried out by Eric Lavigne from the Laval University, Quebec along with his colleagues and has been published in the British Medical Journal.
For the research, the results of 12 cross sectional studies were analyzed to compare the stage at which breast cancer was detected in 28,924 women with or without cosmetic implants. The researchers observed that the cancer was usually seen in an advanced stage in women with implants. In 26% of women with implants, the cancer was no longer localized to the breast tissue.
Being radio-opaque, breast implants interfere with mammography
Researchers have opined that it is difficult to detect breast tumors at an early stage in women with cosmetic implants since the implants are radio-opaque. Therefore, they impair proper visualization of the breast tissue. In fact, almost one-third of the breast tissue remains poorly visualized on mammography. As a result, when the tumor is detected, it is often too late.
Researchers have found that breast cancer is often detected at a late stage in women with cosmetic implants. Therefore, the risk of death due to cancer is higher in these women.
Eric Lavigne, Eric J Holowaty, Jacques Brisson, et al. Breast cancer detection and survival among women with cosmetic breast implants: systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies BMJ 2013; 346:f2399