October is breast cancer awareness month. You probably don’t need reminding of what a serious problem breast cancer is in Ireland, but 1 in 10 Irish women in Ireland will get breast cancer in their lifetime.
We’re doing our bit in The Avoca Clinic by supporting the Get the Girls ‘Round campaign: the Irish Cancer Society’s fundraising drive for breast cancer. We’re offering a percentage of all breast surgery fees to the charity for the month of October.
Year-round, we have clinic policies concerning breast cancer. After every breast reduction and breast uplift we send a sample of breast tissue to our lab to ensure there is nothing abnormal. We also do this for all patients who had PIP Implants removed at our clinic – Our policy is to be over cautious when it comes to your health.
There are two kinds of breast cancer: palpable and non-palpable. Palpable is when a lump can be detected by a self-exam. Non-palpable lumps are detected on a mammogram.
Breast augmentation patients often ask us what the implants mean for breast checks and mammograms. Augmentations will not make you any less or more susceptible to breast cancer, so it’s important to do these checks as often as any women.
Here are some tips:
Breast self-examination with implants
Checking your own breasts is the most effective way of detecting breast cancer early. The self-breast exam checks for things such as a lump or change in appearance. Lumps aren’t always cancer: a lump can be noncancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant).
A breast self-examination involves checking your breasts with your hand for these lumps or changes, and looking at your breasts in a mirror to spot any changes in appearance.
Medical literature suggests that women with breast implants may be able to detect malignant lumps earlier than women without implants. The suggestion is that it is easier to feel a lump because breast implants tend to push the breast away from the body.
Mammogram with implants
Women with breast implants can and should have mammograms. While breast implants can obscure mammogram images, studies still show that mammograms are an effective way to screen for breast cancer in women with breast implants.
If you have implants, tell the mammography facility before you make your appointment. The technician and radiologist must have experience in x-raying patients with breast implants, so it’s a good idea to ask your cosmetic surgeon for a referral to a clinic that does have this experience.
Implants make it slightly harder for radiologists to see a problem, so they’ll need to do extra mammogram views in addition to the standard mammogram images.
If you’ve had a breast reconstruction after a mastectomy, talk to your doctor about a mammogram first.
Find out more about how The Avoca Clinic is supporting the Get the Girls ‘Round campaign, or donate directly to the Get the Girls campaign.