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
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
The findings were published in the British Medical Journal.