Women over age 50 with breast implants have different considerations than younger women. Harvard Medical School recommends mammograms every two years after age 50. Breast implants could impact a mammogram and other types of breast cancer screenings. This does not, however, mean women with breast implants should skip mammograms. They should simply be aware of factors that may apply to them during mammograms as women with saline or silicone breast implants.
Mammograms are important screening tools. They are imaging tests doctors use in conjunction with a patient’s medical history and/or symptoms to diagnose breast cancer. Only 2 to 4 mammograms in 1,000 lead to breast cancer diagnoses, according to the American Cancer Society. Mammograms only take about 20 minutes to complete and require the patient to sit for an imaging test with the bare breasts compressed for better image quality. A mammogram may take slightly longer for women with breast implants.
Every woman should get mammograms every two years starting at 50 years old, according to the latest recommendations from Harvard. Women ages 40 to 50 may also receive mammograms if they have a family history of breast cancer or other risk factors. Mammograms are more difficult to read in younger women, making them more likely to come back with suspicious results. Females should get mammograms every two years between ages 50 and 74. At age 74, research does not give recommendations as to whether or not women should continue getting mammograms.
Women with breast implants often have questions concerning mammograms. While it is true implants can complicate mammograms, women with breast implants should still start getting them at age 50. Answering a few frequently asked questions could quell a patient’s concerns over getting a mammogram with breast implants.
Some patients may need additional MRIs or ultrasounds if breast implants get in the way of mammogram imaging. During a mammogram with implants, patients should communicate openly and honestly with their physicians. If a patient worries about rupturing an implant, for example, the technologist may be able to reposition the breast to avoid squeezing the implant. The technologist should also maneuver the implant around to get a clearer view of the underlying breast tissue for more accurate diagnoses. Voicing fears, concerns and questions before a mammogram could help the process go more smoothly for the patient.