QUEBEC CITY -- While breast implants make screening for breast cancer more difficult, they do not appear to affect the survival rate of women with the disease, according to a new study.
Between 100,000 and 200,000 Canadians have breast implants, according a Canadian study published in the the International Journal of Cancer. And 80 per cent of the time, the implants are for purely aesthetic reasons.
In the U.S., nearly 400,000 women received breast implants in 2007 alone, which represents an increase of 300 per cent over 10 years.
For the study, Canadian researchers tracked 24,558 women from Ontario and Quebec that received breast implants between 1974 and 1989 over 15 years.
The researchers used international databases on cancer and mortality rates in an effort to establish the incidence of breast cancer, the stage at which it was detected and the survival rate amongst the study group. The results were then compared with those from a control group.
Over the course of the 15-year study period, they found that out of the women with the implants, 13.2 per cent of the tumours were discovered once the cancer was in an advanced stage, compared to 5.5 per cent for those without implants. But survival rates were similar in both groups.
The researchers suggested that implants are made up of radiopaque materials that interfere with the analysis of mammograms. The implants also interfere with the proper positioning of the breast in the equipment when the scan is being conducted, which can make it more difficult to detect small lesions.
About one third of the breasts were not able to be correctly examined.
Considering the popularity of breast implants, the researchers believe it is crucial that long-term studies on the issue continue.
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