The number of people choosing breast augmentation procedures has skyrocketed in the last decade, which has led many researchers and clinicians to wonder how breast implants may affect risk of breast cancer. So far, there is little evidence linking saline or silicone breast implants to increased risk of most types of typical breast cancer. However, there are some newer reports of a rare cancer being linked to breast implants, which is not a typical breast cancer but instead is a type of lymphoma called ALCL. More research is being done to elucidate why this rare type of lymphoma has an association with some types of breast implants, especially textured implants.
Risk of breast cancer is low for transwomen and non-binary transfeminine people with or without breast implants. Only 2% of all breast cancer diagnoses occur in the breast tissue of people designated male at birth, and although it is not known how hormone therapy might affect this figure, the risk is thought to be very low.
There is no current research linking breast implants to increased risk of breast cancer for transwomen and transfeminine non-binary people, but there is some evidence that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may increase your risk.
Studies have shown that HRT can increase cancer risk, so it’s recommended that if you are over the age of 50 and have been undergoing HRT for 5 or more years that you get an annual mammogram.
The best defense against breast cancer is early detection. The earlier breast cancer is detected, the easier it is to treat.
If you are concerned about your risk for breast cancer, talk with your primary care physician who can design a personalized preventative care strategy with you.
Breast implants are an important consideration during breast cancer screenings. When getting a mammogram, let the technician know in advance that you have implants. Implants can make it a bit more difficult to perform a mammogram, so choose an experienced technician if possible.
In some cases, it may not be possible to perform a traditional mammogram, especially for those with implants placed directly behind the breast tissue (instead of beneath the chest muscle). In these instances, an MRI may be recommended to screen for breast cancer.