April 20, 2017 — Australian health officials have linked textured breast implants with 51 reports of Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (ALCL), including three deaths.
The FDA published a similar warning in the United States after confirming 9 deaths and 350 cases of lymphoma from breast implants.
Unlike the FDA, all of the reports in Australia involved textured or polyurethane breast implants. The Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) also answered some common questions.
ALCL is a rare type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that usually causes swelling of the breast due to fluid accumulating around the implant. It is diagnosed when a doctor removes the fluid and finds cancer cells. In rare cases, women with ALCL develop a hard lump in their armpit.
ALCL can occur as soon as 1 year after breast implant surgery, or up to 37 years later, but most cases are diagnosed within 3-14 years. The risk is estimated to be 1 in 5,000 women within 3-14 years of surgery.
Experts do not recommend removing breast implants in women who do not have symptoms (swelling or a lump) because ALCL is so rare. However, all breast implants generally need to be removed within 10-15 years. They are not lifetime devices. The longer they remain in the body, the higher the risk of side effects like contracture (hardening of breast tissue) and migration of the implant.
The current hypothesis is that textured breast implants are more dangerous than smooth implants because bacteria can hide from the immune system in the nooks and crannies of a textured implant. This may cause a chronic low-level infection that increases the risk of ALCL, a cancer that starts in infection-fighting white blood cells.
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