Deaths Tied to Rare Cancer, Breast Implants
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reports a rare cancer linked to breast implants has been associated with nine patient deaths. The cancer, anaplastic large-cell lymphoma, is usually treatable and not often fatal. Nevertheless, as of February 1, 2017, the FDA had received more than 350 reports of anaplastic large-cell lymphoma associated with the implants.
According to the FDA, it appears that the content of the implants -- silicone gel or saline, for example -- was not as important as the implants' texture in terms of incidence of lymphoma. Of the 359 reported cases of cancer, 203 were textured, with a pebbly surface, and 28 were smooth. (Only 231of the 359 cases reported included information about the implants' surface texture.)
The lymphoma is usually discovered after symptoms like fluid buildup, pain and swelling develop. Why textured implants are associated with anaplastic large-cell lymphoma at such a higher rate than smooth implants is not known, but when the lymphoma does occur, in many cases the removal of the implant, and the tissue around it, eliminates the disease. (Some women may need chemotherapy and radiation, however.) According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, about 109,000 women in the U.S. received implants for reconstruction after breast cancer in 2016, while almost 300,000 had implants for breast enlargement.
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