A rare cancer is being linked to breast implants. This rare disease has already caused nine deaths. The fatal disease is not breast cancer but rather a rare malignancy in the immune system and is called anaplastic large-cell lymphoma. Cancer grows in the breast at the scar tissue formed around the implant. By most accounts, this rare disease is treatable and not fatal.
The problem, however, is that the cancer is linked to a type of breast implants which are textured. Most breast implants are smooth. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) examined around 350 reports of this cancer associated with breast implants. Included in the data was information about the implant’s surface where 203 were textured, and 28 were smooth.
Anaplastic large-cell lymphoma is a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Signs of the disease include enlarged lymph nodes around the body, tumors outside the lymph nodes, lumps, swelling, redness, pain, fluid build-up, swelling, weight loss, fevers, and night sweats. Tumors are usually found around the breast because of the fluid accumulation around the implant and can invade the tissue surrounding the capsule. Treatment for the disease includes removing the implant or affected capsule around the implant, radiation, and chemotherapy.
The occurrence of cancer has been linked to the texture of the breast implants. Most implants are smooth while the implants associated with the cancer are pebbly. According to The New York Times, the contents of the breast implants do not matter. However, the FDA does not know how many cases there are in the world because of the lack of data. In 2016, just over 100,000 women received implants; most were for reconstruction following breast cancer.
Researchers do not know why the texture of the breast implants makes a difference. Alex K. Wong, a plastic surgeon and a researcher at the University of Southern California said that investigators are currently studying why the surface of the implants matter. He stated that “some cases the cancer also seems to be associated with an individual bacterial infection,” The New York Times reported.
The Associated Press indicated that the cancer presented eight years after an implant took place. Ten cases of the cancer are reported worldwide annually. The cancer was discovered while removing or replacing implants. In a video from CNN, the exact number of cases was unclear. The FDA recommends people with these implants should monitor for any changes and to receive routine screenings.
Physicians should discuss the problem with the patient. If the client has not developed any problems or situations, the implant should remain in place. The FDA warned the public about the “increased risks with textured implants.” More research needs to be done to confirm this theory. But in the meantime, people should follow-up with their physicians about the cancer. The FDA released the study, including what recommendations should be made.
By Cheryl Werber