Can You Feel a Breast Cancer Lump With Implants
If you feel a lump after getting breast implants, contact your doctor

You can feel a breast cancer lump with implants since the implants are placed behind your breast tissue and push your natural breast tissue closer to the surface of the breast.

Breast implants are placed behind the breast tissue (subglandular position) and the pectoralis major muscle (submuscular position). Regardless of the size or type of breast implant (silicone or saline), breast implants do not interfere with breast cancer detection. In fact, they may actually help you perform a self-exam since they push your breast tissue forward.

If you feel a lump after breast implant surgery, inform your doctor. They can perform a physical examination and order tests such as a mammogram, ultrasound, biopsy, and MRI scan to rule out breast cancer.

8 possible signs of breast cancer

  1. Lumps: Using the pads of your fingers, look for any noticeable lumps in the breasts, armpits, and around the collarbone that are solid, irregularly shaped, and fixed to the tissue. Most breast lumps are harmless, however, including fibroadenoma (noncancerous tissue growth) or cysts (buildup of fluid).
  2. Skin texture: Breast cancer can cause the skin to become puckered and dimpled in the chest area. The skin may have an orange peel-like appearance caused by cancerous lumps that block lymphatic drainage. They may cause shortening of the fibrous tissue inside the breast, pulling the skin inward and creating a bumpy or dented feel.
  3. Changes in shape or size: Although the size and feel of the breasts can change slightly at different times of the month or during breastfeeding, changes in breast size or shape may be a sign of breast cancer. One breast may get larger or flatter and may appear more droopy on one side than the other.
  4. Pain: Breast pain and tenderness are common and often the result of menstruation, menopause, or pregnancy. However, if you experience consistent breast pain along with inflammation for no obvious reason, speak to your doctor immediately.
  5. Discharge: Nipple discharge can occur in new mothers and breastfeeding women. However, if your breasts are leaking fluid without any pressure or the fluid is bloodstained or has an unpleasant smell, this may be a sign of cancer.
  6. Nipple changes: Changes in the shape or position of the nipple may simply be due to a change in temperature or stimulation. In some cases, however, breast cancer can attack the duct behind the nipple, pulling it inward. An inverted nipple especially accompanied by a rash or itchiness may be a sign of Paget’s disease, which is typically associated with breast cancer.
  7. Red rash: Inflammatory breast cancer and Paget’s disease can both produce red and itchy rashes on the breast, which may sometimes resemble eczema. Most of the time, rashes are not associated with cancer, but it is always best to talk about any unusual symptoms with a medical professional, especially if the rash is accompanied by swelling or thickening of the breast.
  8. Inflammation: Inflammatory breast cancer is a rare form characterized by visible redness, swelling, and pain in the nipple and breasts that are too warm to touch.

How to self-examine your breasts for cancer

Detecting breast cancer early can ensure that you get timely treatment. It is important to examine your breasts regularly so that you are familiar with what is normal and what may be a sign that something is wrong.

Avoid conducting a self-examination when your breasts are tender and/or swollen, which may occur when you are menstruating. Here is how to examine your breasts for signs of cancer after getting implants:

  • Lie down and put one of your arms underneath your head. Use your other hand to examine your breast.
  • Holding your three middle fingers straight, move lightly in small circular movements over the whole breast, feeling for lumps or thickening tissues.
  • Use different pressure intensities, making sure not to press too hard or squeeze.
  • Check the entire breast from your collarbone to below the breast to your rib cage.
  • Switch arms and repeat on the other breast.
  • Stand in front of a mirror looking at your breasts, with both hands on your hips. Look for any lumps or changes in size and/or shape.
  • Lift one arm at a time and check both armpits.
  • Squeeze each nipple gently using your thumb and index finger, checking for any discharge from the nipple.

Undergoing a mammogram (a screening that can look deep into the breast tissue) once a year is advised for women older than 50 years and every two years for those between the ages of 40 and 50.

QUESTION

A lump in the breast is almost always cancer. See Answer

What are the risks of getting breast implants?

Most cases of breast implant cancer are reported in women with textured breast implants:

Breast implant cancer, also called breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL), can develop in scar tissues around an implant (both silicone and saline) or the fluid between the scar tissue and implant.

Symptoms may include:

  • Redness
  • Breast enlargement
  • Lumps in the breast or armpit
  • Breast asymmetry or changes in appearance
  • Skin rash
  • Hardening of the breast
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss

Breast implant illness is caused by an autoimmune reaction to the implants characterized by symptoms such as:

Implant-related changes, such as increased tightness, firmness, pain, or movement of the breast implant upward on the chest, may all be signs of capsular contracture.

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Medically Reviewed on 10/6/2022
References
Image Source: iStock image

Breast Implants and Cancer Detection. https://www.sutterhealth.org/ask-an-expert/answers/breast-implants-cancer-detection

Women: Breast implants and cancer risk. https://www.mdanderson.org/publications/focused-on-health/breast-implant-cancer.h21-1589046.html

Breast Cancer Screening With Implants. https://www.breastimplantcancer.org/blog/breast-cancer-screening-with-implants/

8 possible signs of breast cancer. https://mybreast.org/8-possible-signs-breast-cancer/