More Women Reported To Have Rare Cancer Linked to Breast Implants

More Women Reported To Have Rare Cancer Linked to Breast Implants
Picture credit: CBC

More Women Reported To Have Rare Cancer Linked to Breast Implants

Most women would go for either saline, and silicone gel breast implants to make their breasts bigger and fuller. While some can be done for reconstructive purposes, such as after a mastectomy for breast cancer, or for cosmetic reasons.

But the question is, Can Breast Implants Make You Sick?

Getting breast implants can change a person’s life for the better. But in recent years some people have suspected that their breast implants have made them very ill with diseases such as:

  • lupus
  • scleroderma
  • sclerosis
  • Sjögren’s syndrome

Some studies have shown there’s no clear scientific evidence connecting these conditions to breast implants. However, the World Health Organization and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have identified a possible cause for concern relating breast implants to a rare cancer called breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL).

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Additionally, breast implants are known to cause:

  • scarring
  • breast pain
  • infection
  • sensory changes
  • implant leakage or rupture

However, more cases of a rare cancer linked to breast implants have been reported in the U.S., according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Related: High Cancer Cases Linked To Breast Implants

This week, the FDA announced that it had received a total of 660 reports of this cancer — called breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) — over an eight-year period ending in September 2018. That’s 246 additional reports since the previous totals were released last year, the FDA said in a statement released yesterday (Feb. 6).

Previous reports also from the FDA announce 414 people have developed the disease and nine have died since the ailment was first reported in 2011.

The FDA said that such increases are to be expected given that the agency has worked to encourage patients and health care providers to report cases of breast implant-associated ALCL. However, the agency noted that some cases were reported more than once (for example, by both the patient and the health care provider). In all, there were 457 unique cases of this cancer, including nine deaths.

ALCL is not breast cancer; rather lymphoma is a type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which means it’s a cancer that affects immune system cells.

The disease can occur in multiple parts of the body, including the lymph nodes and skin. While it can occur in breast tissue, it isn’t breast cancer. When it occurs in women with breast implants, the cancer typically appears in the scar tissue around the implant.

Although most cases have occurred among women with textured breast implants, some cases were among women with smooth implants, the FDA said. But a number of reports did not include the type of texture of the implant, which makes it more difficult to know if certain types of implants are tied to a higher risk of this cancer.

The FDA also said that it wants health care providers to be aware of breast implant-associated ALCL and to consider this diagnosis in patients with breast implants who have new symptoms of pain, swelling or lumps around their breast implants. By encouraging health care providers to report cases of breast cancer-associated ALCL, the FDA hopes to better understand the causes of the condition.

Is Breast Implant Safer?

In terms of silicone and saline breast implant, there appears to be little difference in the risks of developing the disease. However, health experts have found that most patients who develop the disease are more likely to have textured implants instead of smooth.

It’s hard to discern how often people develop the disease, but the FDA estimates that 1 in 3,817 to 30,000 women with textured breast implants are at risk of developing the cancer.