Six years ago, the Food and Drug Administration reported a possible connection between specific types of breast implants and cancer. At that time, the evidence and technology was not advanced enough to draw certain conclusions. Late last month, however, the FDA announced that a rare form of lymphoma has indeed been linked to breast implants.
359 cases of anaplastic large cell lymphoma have been reported as having possible connections to breast implants since February 1, 2017 alone. ALCL is a rare form of cancer that doesn’t form in the breast, but has been shown to occur more frequently in recipients of breast implants with textured surfaces. All but 28 of the 359 cases since February were textured, as opposed to smooth implants.
ALCL is said to affect immune system cells and can be found in skin or lymph nodes around implants. This form of cancer leads to symptoms such as redness, fluid buildup, hardening, swelling or a mass around the implants. Just as women without implants should undergo regular checkups for lumps and other abnormalities, so should women that have undergone breast augmentation surgery to receive implants. Fortunately, ALCL is usually treatable when detected early and isn’t known to be especially fast-growing or spreading.
While the FDA is not recommending drastic action, such as removing breast implants without symptoms, it does strongly urge women to schedule regular checkups. To better track potential cases associated with ALCL and breast implants, the Plastic Surgery Foundation has provided digital methods to report cases of this type of cancer if believed to have been linked with implants. Visit thepsf.org if you’d like to report a case.