May 15, 2017 — A woman from Missouri who survived breast cancer was diagnosed with cancer for a second time as a result of the breast implants that were used to reconstruct her chest.
The New York Times highlighted the risk of breast implants causing cancer with the stories of several women.
One woman was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 33 years old. She had both breasts removed and replaced with silicone implants in 2008.
Six years later, she was diagnosed with Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (ALCL). Implant-associated ALCL is believed to occur due to an immune system reaction to bacteria on the implants, particularly textured implants.
Her right breast tripled in size and filled painfully with fluid. Her surgeon removed the implant and replaced it, but tested the fluid. It was positive for lymphoma.
Nearly all the cases have been linked to textured implants, with one recent study estimating a 14-fold increased risk of cancer for textured vs. smooth implants.
The FDA first reported the link between breast implants and ALCL in 2011. In an update earlier this year, the FDA reported 9 deaths and 359 reports of breast implant lymphoma. At least 51 additional cases have also been reported in Australia.
The symptoms of lymphoma may include painful swelling, fluid buildup around the implant, and sometimes lumps in the breast or armpit. To make the diagnosis, doctors drain fluid surrounding the implant and test it for CD30, a substance that indicates the presence of lymphoma cells.
The good news is that 85% of cases can be cured by surgery alone, as long as ALCL is diagnosed early. Treatment involves removing the implant and the capsule of scar-tissue around it.
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