Radiation after breast implant

Last Modified: November 24, 2002


Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
My 52-year-old mother, who has silicone breast implants, has had a tumor removed from her breast (size 1cm). According to her surgeon, the tumor was a solid mass with "irregular" margins and the breast cancer cells were well differentiated. Her surgeon is recommending mastectomy with lymph node removal. He indicated that this was his recommendation because scientific studies on the efficacy of radiation for breast cancer for women with silicone implants were not abundant enough. Could you please comment or point me in the correct research direction? My family is having a difficult time finding information about breast implants and radiation. Thank you. 


Lawrence J. Solin, MD, FACR, Professor of Radiation Oncology at the University of Pennsylvania, responds:

The determination of optimal treatment for the individual patient is complex, and takes into account many patient and tumor factors. The presence of an implant is generally not considered to be an absolute contraindication to breast conservation treatment, although an implant may make such treatment more complicated. Although there are limited studies on outcome after treatment for patients with implants, the biologic behavior for these tumors does not appear to be different than for tumors in patients without implants. Implants generally do not interfere with the effectiveness of the radiation delivery. For the individual patient, a second opinion with a second surgeon as well as a radiation oncologist might be valuable to evaluate these considerations.