Mammograms are breast x-rays that is a continuous and vital part of any breast surgery. And the process of using them is called mammography. If you have breasts implants then you it is important to tell the breast screening clinic if you have implants, as different techniques may be used for the screening mammogram.
Breast implants (also called breast prostheses) are inserted to enlarge or change the shape of the breasts or to reconstruct the breast following surgery. A breast implant has a shell or envelope made of silicone. The shell is filled with either silicone gel or a saline (salt) fluid or a combination of both.
Women aged 50 to 69 are invited to have a free breast screening mammogram every two years through the Breast Screen Australia program. Having regular screening mammograms (breast x-rays) is the best way to detect breast cancer in its earliest stages.
Breast screening can find most breast cancers present at the time of the mammogram but, like many medical tests, it is not 100 per cent effective. The presence, type and position of the implant within the breast affect how much breast tissue can be seen on the mammogram.
If you have implants because of treatment for breast cancer, a general breast screening service such as Breast Screen is not the best service for your needs. You should discuss your individual circumstances with your doctor.
Some women may feel concerned about being exposed to radiation. Breast mammography uses a very low dose of radiation. For most women, the benefits of having regular screening outweigh any possible risk from radiation exposure. Breast screening for women with breast implants often requires more x-ray films than for women without implants and so may involve additional exposure to radiation.
Possible breast implant abnormalities are not always obvious on a screening mammogram but, if a possible implant abnormality is incidentally noted, Breast Screen will tell you in your results letter.
It is unlikely, but possible, that having a screening mammogram could cause or worsen leaking of silicone or change the shape or texture of the breast.
For most women, the benefits of breast screening mammograms will outweigh the risks.