Breast augmentation patients are advised that they should complete necessary mammography and/or MRI screening at select intervals over the course of time to prevent delayed diagnosis of breast cancer. It has been estimated that 49,000 of 300,000 women that have breast implants will develop breast cancer. It is also important to note that breast cancer treatment may be different for a breast augmentation patient vs. a woman that does not have breast implants.
Whole breast radiation, often a part of cancer treatment following lumpectomy, has been associated with a high capsular contracture and aesthetic compromising rate for women with breast implants. Also, it has been documented that whole breast radiation causes swelling and skin hardening. Because whole breast radiation has created concerns for women who have had breast augmentation, an alternative has been developed to alleviate concerns- image guided brachytherapy. Nucletron, a Dutch firm, has developed a template to focus on only on the breast tissue for image guided brachytherapy, not the breast implant. Nucletron’s template may be the same template used in mammography for women with breast implants. Brachytherapy takes images of the breast with the use of computerized tomography. This allows the cancer treating radiologist to insert brachytherpay capsules through a catheter with the support of the image to avoid breast implant puncture.
Women who have breast implants and have breast cancer may be candidates for image guided brachytherapy. There are several factors that go into identifying candidacy for brachytherapy. For example, the lesions must be under 3cm and the cancer cannot be very extensive. Also, the procedure is fairly new and may require further evaluation for safety and efficacy. On a positive note, the cancer recurrence rate for image guided brachytherapy is approximately 5%, similar to whole breast radiation.