Cancer Link: Breast Implants May Cause Rare Form of Cancer, FDA Says

The FDA has received more than 350 reports, including the nine deaths, as of February 1, about breast implant-linked anaplastic large cell lymphoma, ALCL, an extremely rare cancer that affects the immune system. In the cases that were reported to the FDA, the cancer typically occurred in the scar tissue around the implant, the agency said. The health agency till now has received a total of 359 reports which are possible breast implant -associated cancer cases.

Of those, 28 of the cancers were in women who received breast implants with smooth surfaces and 203 were in women who had a version with a textured surface.

The number of ALCL cases related to breast implants is hard to determine, the FDA said, because of a lack of reporting data.

The FDA said that the condition occurs most frequently in patients undergoing implant revision operations for late onset, persistent seroma.

In most cases, the cancer was found during surgery to remove or replace an implant after the women reported pain, lumps and swelling around it.

Details on breast implant surface and fill type are limited, the USA regulator said.

Doctors and researchers have been investigating a connection between breast implants and ALCL * a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=breast+AND+(implant*+OR+prosthesis+OR+prosthes*+OR+endoprosthes*)+AND+lymphoma*" *for years. So the cancer occurs in the immune system cells around the breast implant, but not in the breast tissue cells themselves.

The cancer is not breast cancer, the FDA emphasized.

Its recommendation to healthcare providers is to continue to proved patients with breast implants with "routine care and support". World Health Organization researchers reported the disease can take an average of 10 years to develop after implant installation. In some cases, patients presented with capsular contracture or masses adjacent to the breast implant.

Exactly how breast implants might cause cancer is not known.

"If you have silicone gel-filled breast implants, get periodic magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to detect ruptures as recommended by your health care provider".

"If you have breast implants, there is no need to change your routine medical care and follow-up", the agency added, noting that ALCL is rare. Breast implants are the second most popular cosmetic procedure for women. Of these, 186 reported implants filled with silicone gel and 126 reported implants filled with saline.

"In 2011, the FDA identified a possible association between breast implants and the development of ALCL ..."

  • Aubrey Nash