In the study of women with breast cancer, those who had breast implants tend to be diagnosed later than women without implants.
However, the results should be considered preliminary and more studies are needed to confirm them.
The breast implants themselves are not thought to increase the risk of breast cancer, but they can hinder the ability of doctors to see breast tissue by mammography. Early studies have investigated this issue have had mixed results.
The present study analyzed data from 12 previous studies that included women with breast cancer with and without breast implants.
Women with breast implants were 26 percent more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer at a late stage, compared with women without them. However, this finding did not quite reach the rank of "important", which means it could have been due to chance.
In a separate analysis of the other five additional studies of women with breast cancer, those who had implants had a 38 percent greater chance of dying from the disease than women without implants.
This second finding should also be interpreted with caution, the researchers said, because some of these studies did not take into account factors that might influence the risk of breast cancer, such as obesity.
The new results are not definitive, but suggest that the effect of breast implants on mammography may be more of a problem than previously thought, said Dr. Stephanie Bernik, chief of surgical oncology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.
If it turns out that breast implants do, indeed, make it harder to detect breast cancer in mammograms, should be considered the selection of additional procedures, such as ultrasound, according Bernik.
Fotografía By National Cancer Institute [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Common