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Implants May Delay Breast Cancer Detection, Raise Death Risk
Date:4/30/2013

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, April 30 (HealthDay News) -- Women with breast implants could run the risk of having breast cancer diagnosed at later stages, when survival might be worse, according to Canadian researchers.

Breast implants can make it more difficult to diagnose breast cancer early because they block some areas of the breast on mammograms, experts say.

"Women who currently have breast implants and those considering breast augmentation should be aware of the possible long-term health effects of cosmetic breast implants," said lead author Eric Lavigne, a Ph.D. graduate in epidemiology with the faculty of medicine at University Laval, in Quebec City.

"They should also be reassured that physicians and other health professionals will continue to offer the best medical practices to these women," he added.

To see whether breast implants had an effect on breast cancer diagnosis and survival, Lavigne's team reviewed studies published after 1993. This process, known as a meta-analysis, attempts to find a consistent pattern from different studies. In many cases, these patterns aren't the focus of or apparent from each individual study, but emerge only after the data are combined.

In this case, by analyzing 12 studies, the researchers found that women with breast implants had a 26 percent increased risk of being diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer compared to women without implants.

When Lavigne's group looked at another five studies, they found that women with breast implants had a 38 percent increased risk of dying from breast cancer than women without implants.

This finding "may be explained by the advanced breast cancer diagnosis received," Lavigne said.

These results, however, need to be interpreted with caution since only a small number of studies were included in this summary, and many factors in each study can affect the overall results, he said.

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