Breast Implants Linked to Rare Form of Cancer

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a statement Wednesday about a possible link between breast implants–both saline and silicone–and a rare form of cancer called anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL). The agency is currently aware of about 60 cases of ALCL in women with breast implants, 34 of them in the United States. They emphasize that this is a very small number of cases when compared to the estimated 5-10 million women worldwide who have received implants. Dr. Richard Besser, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and current senior health and medical editor for ABC News, offered the following context: “A woman is more likely to be struck by lightning than get this condition.”

The cancer is not breast cancer. It is a systemic disease that has been found in the capsule of scar tissue around the implant – not in the breast tissue itself. Because the cases were discovered in women who had symptoms such as lumps, pain, swelling, and fluid buildup, the FDA is not advising that asymptomatic women have their implants removed, but rather that they contact their doctor promptly if they notice any changes in or around their breast implants. Doctors have been urged to report cases of ALCL to the FDA’s Medwatch.

Read on for more information and then add your comment: If you were to consider implants–either for cosmetic or reconstructive reasons – would this information have an impact on your decision?

Q&A about ALCL on FDA web site

ABC News Video: FDA Reports Link Between Breast Implants and a Rare Cancer

New York Times: Breast Implants Are Linked to Rare but Treatable Cancer, F.D.A. Finds

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The One Medical blog is published by One Medical, an innovative primary care practice with offices in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, and Washington, DC.