Finding Breast Cancer in Breast Implants
The Link Between Breast Implants And A Rare Cancer
The Food And Drug Administration (FDA) has just issued an update about the link between breast implants and cancer after nine deaths—and 359 total cases—have been reported to the agency. The rare form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma called anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) isn't a type of breast cancer, but rather a cancer that affects the immune system and can be found in the skin or lymph nodes around implants.
The FDA first recognized an association between breast implants and ALCL in 2011, but "knew of so few cases of this disease that it was not possible to determine what factors increased the risk," says the report. Several advances were made in research last year that helped the FDA better understand the link, including the World Health Organization's formal revision of the classification. Only 231 of the 359 reported cases included information about the type of implants the patients had received. Of those 231, a whopping 203 of them occurred in patients who had textured implants, which confirmed the FDA's earlier suspicion that textured implants increased the risk for developing ALCL. Only 28 of the cases occurred in women with smooth implants. Most plastic surgeons seem to have a preference for smooth implants, although textured ones are used to reduce the risk of capsular contracture (scar tissue formation) and migration over time.
"All of the information to date suggests that women with breast implants have a very low but increased risk of developing ALCL compared to women who do not have breast implants," notes the report. "Most cases of breast implant-associated ALCL are treated by removal of the implant and the capsule surrounding the implant and some cases have been treated by chemotherapy and radiation."
According to CNN, most of the cases of ALCL have "have been described as a slow-growing that is treatable when it's detected early," and by some estimates, less than 10 patients a year will be diagnosed with it. While more research and studies are needed, the FDA is calling on doctors to report all confirmed cases of ALCL in women with breast implants. If you have implants or are currently thinking about going under the knife, the same rules apply: talk to your doctor to understand the risks and benefits of different types of implants, and monitor your implants for any unusual changes.
Video: Link between breast implants and rare cancer
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