Breast augmentation may hurt breast cancer survival

May 1, 2013 at 1:38 AM
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LAVAL, Quebec, May 1 (UPI) -- Cosmetic breast augmentation may adversely affect the survival of women who are subsequently diagnosed with breast cancer, researchers in Canada say.

Eric Lavigne of Laval University in Quebec and colleagues said the findings should be interpreted with caution, as some studies included in the meta-analysis on survival did not adjust for potential confounders. Further investigations are warranted regarding diagnosis and prognosis of breast cancer among women with breast implants.

Cosmetic breast augmentation has become increasingly popular. In the United States, cosmetic breast augmentation was the most commonly performed cosmetic surgical procedure in 2011; with 307,000 surgeries performed, an increase of approximately 800 percent compared with the early 1990s.

The weight of evidence from epidemiological studies indicates cosmetic breast implants are not associated with increased risk of breast cancer, but concern remains because implants may impair the ability to identify breast cancer at an early stage by mammography because cosmetic breast implants are radio-opaque, impairing the visualization of breast tissue with mammography and making detection of breast cancer at an early stage more difficult.

Although specialized radiographic techniques were developed for women with breast implants to improve visualization, one-third of the breast is still not adequately visualized despite such techniques, leading to an increase in false negative mammograms.

The researchers said there is still concern breast implants might impair the ability to identify breast cancer at an early stage when survival is generally more favorable.

The findings were published in the British Medical Journal.

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