FDA Warns Women: Breast Implants Are Linked to Cancer, a Rare Lymphoma

Henrietta Strickland
February 10, 2019

The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning Wednesday about a rare and deadly cancer linked to breast implants.

At least 457 women in the US have been diagnosed with breast implant-associated lymphoma, also referred to as BIA-ALCL, and nine of those women have died.

Nine of them have died. Once the said cancer occurs in women who have breast implants, it will typically appear in the scar tissue around the implant.

Since September, the FDA has received 660 medical device reports regarding cancer linked to breast implants.

This "makes it more hard to know if any particular breast implant characteristic is associated with BIA-ALCL or if higher reports of BIA-ALCL are simply due to higher implantation rate of a particular manufacturer", Ashar said.

The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons has written: "BIA-ALCL usually develops as a delayed swelling of the breast (Average 8 years, range 2 to 28 years) after the insertion of textured breast implants, which may present as fluid collecting around the implant or marked breast asymmetry".

'We hope that this information prompts providers and patients to have important, informed conversations about breast implants and the risk of BIA-ALCL, ' Dr. Ashar said in the statement. "They are some of the first physicians to treat patients symptomatic for BIA ALCL and these patients are often missed and mistreated for mastitis, shingles and other conditions", said Michelle Forney, a California mother of two, diagnosed with ALCL previous year. Today it made an announcement that they are sending letters to doctors, primary care physicians and gynecologists indicating to dig in more on ACLC so they can perform the diagnosis and treatment well to those who are affected.

The textured implants have become increasingly popular because women don't have to worry about getting the implant re-positioned. This includes reporting individual cases as well as rates you may have experienced during your practice.

"For patients, we know the information regarding breast implants can be overwhelming, which is why we are committed to continuing our efforts to provide up-to-date publicly available resources to help understand the known benefits and risks of implants", Ashar said. Smooth implants are softer than their textured counterparts, allowing for a more natural look and feel - but may lead to slightly visible rippling and shifting in position over time. In patients with breast implants, reported cases of BIA-ALCL were generally found adjacent to the implant itself and contained within the fibrous capsule.

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