People with implants can have breast screens
If you are over 40 with no breast symptoms, you are eligible for free breast screening with BreastScreen Victoria.
Most women with breast implants can have regular breast screens. There is no evidence that women with breast implants are more likely to develop breast cancer.
Before making an appointment you may wish to discuss with your doctor whether breast screening is suitable for you.
What is different with implants?
Implants make it harder to see breast tissue on standard mammograms. Additional images will be needed to show as much breast tissue as possible. You will need a slightly longer appointment (approximately 20 minutes).
You may experience some discomfort as the implant usually needs to be moved back to expose the maximum amount of breast tissue. Most women find that this discomfort does not last long. If you experience pain during the breast screen, please let the radiographer know. You may also ask for the procedure to stop at any time.
Screening with implants
Above: The implant is pushed back allowing your breast tissue to be more clearly seen.
Finding breast cancers
Breast screens can find most breast cancers present at the time of screening but, like other medical tests, they are not 100% accurate. Breast implants can cover some of the breast tissue, which may make it more difficult to find small breast cancers.
Breast screening is generally safe for women with implants. However, it is important that you consider the risks alongside the benefits before deciding to attend BreastScreen.
- There is an extremely small chance that the pressure placed on the implant during the breast screen (mammogram) could cause the implants to rupture or break.
- In women who have implants which have already ruptured or started to leak, it is possible that having a breast screen could increase the amount of silicone or saline (depending on the type of implant) spreading into the breast tissue.
- In some women with implants, very small amounts of silicone or saline (depending on the implant) pass through the pores of the implant shell. This is sometimes called ‘bleeding’ of the implant. At present it is not known whether breast screening increases ‘bleeding’ of implants.
- There is a small chance that breast screening will change the shape of the breasts by dispersing the fibrous capsule that often grows around the implant. The breast may feel softer after screening. However, it cannot be guaranteed that both breasts will be affected equally.
- Because of the extra views required, women with implants will experience more exposure to radiation during breast screening than women without implants.
If a possible abnormality with your breast implant is found you will be notified. However, not all leaks and ruptures will show up on a breast screen.
You will be advised to discuss this with your doctor.
BreastScreen Victoria does not assess implant problems so if you notice a problem, please see your doctor as soon as possible.
- Download the PDF information sheet Breast screening for women with implants
- BreastScreen Australia's policy on management of women with breast implants