Considering breast implants with a family history of breast cancer

Last Modified: January 30, 2005


Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

My wife is 25 years old and considering breast implants. However, she has a family history of breast cancer (mother, grandmother, and great grandmother) Would the implants decrease or increase her chance of getting breast cancer? Should she just have both breasts removed and replaced with them?



Don LaRossa, MD, Professor of Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, responds:

Someone with a strong family history in first degree relatives should undergo genetic counseling and possible testing for the more common genes related to breast cancer. She should meet with an oncologist with expertise in breast cancer genetics regarding her risks and whether she should consider such a drastic step. Removal of the breasts is an option in patients with a strong family history with breast cancer, but should be considered with caution.  It is impossible to remove all the breast tissue even with a total mastectomy. To be as complete as possible the Nipple and Aerola must be removed as well when this procedure is performed. Implant reconstructions are rarely as natural as an unoperated breast in appearance, consistency or sensation.  Implants are not trouble free and at the very least are likely to require replacement especially in such a young person.