Breast augmentation is the third most common type of plastic surgery performed for cosmetic reasons in the United States. In 2002, nearly 269,000 procedures were performed.
Researchers examined data from seven mammography registries in the United States. They compared the mammogram results of women with breast implants to those of women without breast implants.
Results of the study show breast implants decreased the sensitivity of mammography exams. Researchers define sensitivity as the proportion of positive mammograms among women diagnosed with breast cancer within one year of their exam. The sensitivity of women with breast implants was 45 percent, while the sensitivity for those without implants was nearly 67 percent. Researchers say women with breast implants had a slightly higher specificity. Specificity is defined as the proportion of negative mammograms among women without cancer. However, researchers say breast implants did not affect prognostic factors such as tumor stage and size.
Based on their study researchers say that, "Although the sensitivity of screening mammography is lower in asymptomatic women with breast augmentation, there is no evidence that this results in more advanced disease at diagnosis compared with women without augmentation. Women with breast augmentation should be encouraged to have routine screening mammography at recommended intervals."