October 30, 2017 — Researchers are warning about a likely causal connection between textured breast implants and a rare type of cancer known as Anaplastic Large-Cell Lymphoma (ALCL).
In a study published in JAMA Surgery, researchers from Penn State said ALCL “really only started to appear after textured implants came on the market in the 1990s.”
According to Dr. Dino Ravnic, assistant professor of surgery at Penn State College of Medicine:
“We’re seeing that this cancer is likely very underreported, and as more information on this type of cancer comes to light, the number of cases is likely to increase in the coming years.”
Earlier this year, the FDA reported 359 cases of ALCL and 9 deaths worldwide among women with breast implants, with most of the cases in women with textured breast implants.
The researchers at Penn State analyzed 95 cases and determined that breast implant lymphoma is likely caused by chronic low-level infections, which substantially increases the risk that T-cells (white blood cells that fight off infections) will mutate and become cancerous.
Evidence suggests an average of 10 years between receiving the implant and developing cancer. Most women are diagnosed when they develop a fluid-filled seroma around the implant, but in some women, the first symptom is a cancerous lump on their breast.
The researchers did not find any cases of ALCL from the era before pre-textured breast implants, “which suggests a causal relationship with textured implants.” They also noted that all breast implant makers have reported cases of ALCL in women who got textured implants.
Studies suggest that textured breast implants are contaminated with bacteria during the implant procedure. Unlike smooth implants, the textured surface can hide bacteria from the immune system, resulting in a permanent low-level infection that increases the risk of cancer.
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