FDA: at least 9 people have died from cancer caused by breast implants. Here’s what you need to know before going under the knife

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anaplastic large cell lymphoma

FDA: at least 9 people have died from cancer caused by breast implants. Here’s what you need to know before going under the knife

Cosmetic surgery seems to be getting more and more popular, whether it’s a tummy tuck, liposuction, or a breast implant surgery, more and more people are paying big bucks to enhance their appearances. In 2015, nearly 280,000 women and teenagers got silicone or saline breast implants. The number of surgeries has tripled since 1997.

With cosmetic surgery comes risks and side effects. Just recently, the FDA announced that there seems to be a  correlation between breast implants and anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) cancer, and how this cancer has killed at least nine people. This is what women wished they had known before choosing to get plastic surgery.

What is Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma?

Anaplastic large cell lymphoma, also known as ALCL,  is the most common blood cancer. There are two forms of lymphoma, Hodgkin (HL) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). Basically, lymphocytes, which are a type of white blood cell, if they are cancerous will grow and multiply uncontrollably. Lymphocytes travel to many parts of the body such as the lymph nodes, bone marrow, blood and other organs. You can read this article to know more about ALCL and lymphocytes, or watch the following video below.

ALCL Can Show Up in Two Ways:

  1. In the skin, which is called cutaneous ALCL (usually grows slowly)

  2. In the lymph nodes and other organs, which is called systemic ALCL (often spreads quickly)

Symptoms of ALCL (2): 

  • Fever

  • Backache

  • Painless swelling of lymph nodes

  • Loss of appetite

  • Tiredness

  • Swelling, pain

  • Lumps

  • Night sweats

Since these symptoms can be very vague, it’s important to pay attention to changes in your body on a day-to-day basis as well as to go for regular check-ins and blood work with your healthcare provider.

Is There a Link Between Breast Implants and ALCL?

In a report done by Center for devices and radiological health U.S. Food and Drug Administration, they mentioned that “reports in the scientific community have suggested a possible association between ALK-negative ALCL and silicone and saline-filled breast implants.”

Basically, there are two types of breast implants, saline-filled and silicone gel-filled. Both of them have a silicone outer shell.

“All of the information to date suggests that women with breast implants have a very low but increased risk of developing ALCL compared to women who do not have breast implants,” the FDA said in a statement.

Breast implants are placed behind the breast tissue or under the chest muscle. Over time, a scar tissue capsule develops around the implant separating it from the rest of the breast. In most cases, the ALCL was found next to the implant and contained within the capsule. Furthermore, ALCL seems to be related to textured breast implants.

According to the Blood Journal, anaplastic large cell lymphoma cancer can take up to 10 years to develop after the implant first goes in and it usually stays in that area, but it does have the potential to separate from the original area and spread throughout the body. It is usually diagnosed after a patient reports pain and swelling in the offending area.

With this information now available it is recommended that if you have breast implants, to go to your physician to receive advice on cancer prevention and detection because the only thing you can do now is to be proactive about your health.

FDA Recommendations for those with Implants:

  • Regular monitoring for symptoms of ALCL

  • If you have no symptoms of ALCL, there’s no need to remove the implant or to change your medical routine.

The FDA identified 34 unique cases of ALCL in women with breast implants between January 1997 to Many 2010. So, if you are planning on getting a breast implant surgery, make sure you do extensive research beforehand and speak to your doctor about the risks associated.

You can read more about the case studies on the link between ALCL and breast implants here.

Other Risks to Keep in Mind Before Going Under the Knife For a Breast Implant Surgery (4):

  • Additional surgeries with or without removal of the device

  • Scar tissue that forms around the implant

  • Breast pain

  • Changes in breast and nipple sensation

  • Rupture with deflation

Read this article to know more about the risks and complications.

This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is for information only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition and/or current medication. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here.

  1. Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma. (2016, August). Retrieved March 28, 2017, from http://www.lymphoma.org/site/pp.asp?c=bkLTKaOQLmK8E&b=6300143

  2. Anaplastic Large-Cell Lymphoma. (n.d.). Retrieved March 28, 2017, from http://www.webmd.com/cancer/lymphoma/anaplastic-large-cell-lymphoma#1

  3. ALCL risk from breast implants. (n.d.). Retrieved March 28, 2017, from http://www.bapras.org.uk/professionals/clinical-guidance/alcl-risk-from-breast-implants

  4. Center for Devices and Radiological Health. (2017, March 21). Breast Implants – Risks of Breast Implants. Retrieved March 28, 2017, from https://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/ImplantsandProsthetics/BreastImplants/ucm064106.htm#Risks_of_Breast_Implants

  5. Center for Devices and Radiological Health. (2011, January). Breast Implants – Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (ALCL) In Women with Breast Implants: Preliminary FDA Findings and Analyses. Retrieved March 28, 2017, from https://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/ImplantsandProsthetics/BreastImplants/ucm239996.htm

  6. Facts About Breast Implants. (2016, October 25). Retrieved March 28, 2017, from http://www.ourbodiesourselves.org/health-info/facts-about-breast-implants/

  7. Fox, M. (2017, March 21). Breast implants can cause a rare cancer, FDA says. Retrieved March 28, 2017, from http://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/fda-affirms-breast-implants-can-cause-rare-form-cancer-n736551

  8. Implants Linked To Risk Of Rare Lymphoma. (n.d.). Retrieved March 28, 2017, from http://www.breastcancer.org/research-news/fda-updates-on-textured-implants-and-cancer

  9. Swerdlow, S. H., Campo, E., & Pileri, S. A. (2016, May 19). The 2016 revision of the World Health Organization classification of lymphoid neoplasms. Retrieved March 28, 2017, from http://www.bloodjournal.org/content/127/20/2375?sso-checked=true

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