Breast Implants

Are breast implants linked to cancer? Sara G. Miller is a staff writer who answers some of our questions. There are cases of a rare type of cancer which is linked to breast implants and they seem to be on the rise.

The breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma, or BIA-ALCL, is not a form of breast cancer but a lymphoma, which is a cancer of the immune system. There are estimates that the range of women affected is 1 in 4,000 for those with breast implants to 1 in 30,000, according to a review published in the journal JAMA Surgery. They actually believe the most likely estimate is to be the former one according to Plastic Surgery Myths Revealed.

According to senior study author Dr. Dino Ravnic, assistant professor of surgery at the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, this type of cancer is underreported and as more comes to light, the number of cases is likely to increase in the coming years.

FDA announced that the agency would recognize the link between breast implants and anaplastic large cell lymphoma. They have received more than 350 reports of cancer linked to breast implants from June 2010 to February 2017. These reports included nine deaths.

The implants began to be used in 1980 and gained popularity. The first case of BIA-ALCL was in 1997, and no cases were found prior to textured implants. All manufacturers of this type have had cases linked to this type of cancer. The textured implants may cause cancer. This cancer is caused by inflammation in the breast that surrounds the implant. When the breast tissue grows into the tiny holes in the surface of the implant, the inflammation is prolonged and chronic inflammation is known to cause lymphoma.

Women were on average diagnosed with BIA-ALCL about 10 years following the insertion of the implants and the average age was 51 for those who got the implants for cosmetic reasons. For those who got the implants for reconstruction purposes, the average age was about 57 years old. The rate of breast implantation is increasing every year and experts expect to see a rise in the number of this type of cancer.

The FDA says the risk from implants is small, but it is important for doctors to recognize the possible risks and to be aware of any symptoms in order to spot cancer.

Dr Fredda Branyon