Are Saline Implants Less Likely to Cause Breast Cancer Than Silicone Implants?

If breast cancer runs in my family, should I opt for saline implants? Why or why not?

Doctor Answers (11)

Are Saline Implants Less Likely to Cause Breast Cancer Than Silicone Implants?

Hello!  Thank you for your question!  This a great question, which is often asked by patients.  The answer is no - there is no link to breast implants, either saline or silicone, and cancer.  All supporting literature has demonstrated this fact and no association with cancer, autoimmune disorders, or autoinflammatory disorders.  

It is known that women are more in tune with their breasts and more diligent with examination and feeling/knowing the contour of her breasts, thus able to identify any abnormality sooner.  Imaging studies of the breasts are similar to imaging without breast implants and cancers are not hidden either by the presence of breast implants.  You should remain proactive with your monthly self examination, annual clinical examination, and mammograms beginning at age 40 (unless family history, as directed by the Radiological Society).  Best wishes!  Hope that this helps!

Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Breast Implants and Cancer


As of this writing, there are no studies that show an increase in placement of breast implants, (saline or silicone), and breast cancer. 

Jeffrey Roth, MD
Las Vegas Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Breast Implants and Mammograms


Mammography can still be performed with breast implants in place. Mammography technicians are trained to use specialized techniques for women with breast implants that help to image the breast tissue around the curved surface of the implants. Be sure to let the mammography provider know that you have breast implants when you schedule your mammogram.

It is not possible to obtain a mammogram by imaging through the implants, only around them. Breast implants therefore potentially do reduce a radiologist's ability to visualize breast tissue completely. This is more of a concern with implants placed immediately behind the breast ('sub-mammary', aka 'sub-glandular' position), so for that reason the sub-pectoral position is strongly preferred.

There is no conclusive evidence which shows that women with breast implants are diagnosed with breast cancer at a later stage than women without implants - which one would expect if breast implants actually delayed the detection of breast cancer. Likewise, women with breast implants do not appear to have a higher mortality rate from breast cancer compared to women without breast implants. Breast implants do not obscure or interfere with patient self-examination or physician breast examination, which are at least as important as (if not more important than) mammography for breast cancer screening.

Mammography is currently the recommended mass screening test for breast cancer, but it has significant limitations due to a high number of false positives (which leads to biopsies when no cancer is actually present) and false negatives (which means a cancer is missed when it is present). The most sensitive and specific radiologic test for breast cancer is a contrast-enhanced MRI scan, which refers to an MRI that is enhanced by the administration of an intravenous 'contrast' agent. The contrast agent helps to 'light up' a breast cancer on the MRI scan when one is present. Breast implants do not interfere with breast MRI scanning in any way.

Michael Law, MD
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 37 reviews

You might also like...



There are many scientific studies that show that neither silicone or saline implants cause breast cancer.

E. Anthony Musarra II, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Breast implants and cancer


It is important to know which relatives developed breast cancer and at what age.  Cancer in close relations (sister, mother, maternal mother, maternal sister) may be an indication of increased risk of cancer for you, especially if those cancers occurred in your female relatives before menopause.  BRCA gene screening may be indicated.


As far as implants are concerned, saline and silicone have the same safety profile regarding cancer. 

Daniel Greenwald, MD
Tampa Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Breast cancer and implants


There is no evidence that saline or silicone implants have any association with developing breast cancer.

Steven Wallach, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

Cancer with breast implants


Neither saline or silicone breasts implants are shown to increase the incidence of breast cancer.  A super rare form of lympoma has been reported.  Family history is an important factor in breast cancer.  Mammograms may be impeded somewhat by implants placed above the muscle.   Donald R. Nunn MD Atlanta Plastic Surgeon.

Donald Nunn, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

Breast Implants


There has been no evidence that either type of implant has been linked to breast cancer.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 681 reviews



There is no evidence that either Saline or Gel implants cause breast cancer.  Detection of breast cancer may be more difficult by mammogram less so if the implants are placed beneath the muscle.

Todd B. Koch, MD
Buffalo Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Breast implants and breast cancer


Neither saline nor silicone gel filled breast implants have been found to have any increased risk of causing breast cancer. The real question sounds like whether or not you should have breast implants at all if you are already worried about breast cancer and believe you have a worrisome family history. If you are not comfortable with the basic idea of implants then you shouldn't have them, regardless of the type.

Frank B. McCutcheon, Jr., MD
Asheville Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.