Breast Implants? This Article Could Save Your Life

Posted on May 21, 2019

The FDA has linked a rare type of lymphoma to cosmetic breast implants made from saline and silicone.

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Rare Cancer Linked to Breast Implants

In 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) received 359 reports of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma potentially caused by cosmetic saline and silicone breast implants. This rare form of cancer, known as anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL), was responsible for numerous injuries and nine deaths in 2017.

The FDA first began investigating the possibility of ALCL linked to cosmetic breast implants in 2011 after growing suspicions of cancer-related occurrences. Although the medical community largely supports breast augmentation as a safe procedure with low health risks, injury lawyers suspected that women with cosmetic breast implants face a higher risk of developing ALCL compared to women without implants. In most cases, ALCL is found in fluid near the implant or in scar tissue, but it can spread throughout the body. Although specific data on risks and causes of ALCL remain inconclusive, most cases of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma have been found in patients with textured-surface breast implants rather than implants with smooth surfaces. According to medical research, ALCL can take up to 10 years after original breast augmentation to develop. Many women are not aware of any problems until pain and swelling develop.

Since breast augmentation is the second most popular cosmetic procedure among women, after liposuction, the FDA is taking a close look at ALCL related to breast implants. The FDA regularly reviews and monitors medical device reports, reviews patient data on ALCL related to breast implants, and reviews manufacturers’ data on ALCL health risks. Since September 2018, the FDA has received 660 medical device reports related to ALCL and cosmetic breast implants. Typically, reports provide information regarding implants when an ALCL diagnosis is made, but do not provide information about a patient’s history of breast augmentation surgeries. In some cases, patients may have received more than one breast augmentation surgery or one or more replacement implants.

The FDA and the Plastic Surgery Foundation urge all physicians to report cases of ALCL related to cosmetic breast implants. Prior to implantation, physicians should provide all patients with the breast implant manufacturer’s labeling, as well as educational materials that explain the risks and benefits of both textured and smooth-surface implants. Breast augmentation patients are urged to get regular mammograms and report any leakage or changes in the size and shape of implants right away.