Breast Implants Don't Hurt Survival of Mastectomy Patients

Study finds they may actually improve long-term outlook

THURSDAY, Dec. 23, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- The long-term survival of breast cancer patients isn't reduced when they receive breast reconstruction with implants after mastectomy.

That finding appears in a study published in the Dec. 23 issue of Breast Cancer Research.

In fact, the study seems to offer evidence that implants may actually improve survival.

While previous research found that breast implants have no adverse short-term effect among these patients, there had been no studies on the long-term effects of breast implants.

Researchers from the Northern California Cancer Center analyzed data on about 4,000 women under age 65 with early stage breast cancer. All the women had mastectomies and were tracked for about 12 years following their diagnosis.

The 21 percent of women who had a breast implant after mastectomy had a 12.4 percent death rate due to breast cancer, compared with a 19.7 percent death rate among women who did not receive a breast implant.

The women who received implants were more likely to be younger and white than women who didn't receive implants.

"Certainly, further research is needed to explain this survival differential in women with breast implants and those without, by examining potentially explanatory factors such as socioeconomic status, comorbidity, smoking, or other lifestyle factors," the study authors wrote.

They suggest that breast implants may help improve survival by boosting the self-esteem and morale of women who have had mastectomies. The implants may also have other indirect benefits, such as better medical care and follow-up.

Previous research suggested that implants may also help stimulate the immune system and reduce blood flow to the breast, which can help block tumor growth.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about breast reconstruction after mastectomy.

SOURCE: BioMed Central, news release, Dec. 23, 2004
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