One kind of cancer is being found in women who get breast implants, including women who get reconstructive surgery after undergoing a double mastectomy to treat breast cancer.
Breast Implant Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma is an issue that plastic surgeons are warning their patients about, but they don`t want women to live in fear.
“I don`t want women to be scared and not get implants just because of a very rare cancer,” Dr. Julie Holding from the University of Kansas Hospital said.
The cancer known as BIA-ALCL has only been reported in 359 patients nationwide. It`s associated with nine deaths, although Dr. Holding says not all nine deaths were necessarily caused by the lymphoma alone.
Dr. Holding says there have reports of certain types of implants being more prone to be associated with this lymphoma – textured implants have been associated with 203 of 231 reports of the lymphoma.
“The thought is that the more aggressive the texturing, the more little crevices that you can get into and bacteria can get in there and live and cause a reaction,” Dr. Holding said.
However, of the 231 reports on implant types associated with the lymphoma, 28 were smooth implants. Dr. Holding says implant patients need to be concerned if there are noticeable changes in their breasts.
“Most of the time what happens is one side will just balloon up and get really big, called a ceroma, so it fills up with fluid,” she explained.
And those changes can happen in the long-term or short-term.
“The presentation is after two years from when their implants were placed and even up to 25 years, it`s a long time that it can develop,” Dr. Holding said.
Dr. Holding says this kind of lymphoma is treatable, but dangerous just like any form of cancer. However, she says it`s not a cause for major alarm, because it`s rare, and it`s not concerning enough for her to stop performing breast augmentation surgery.
“If I was concerned, I certainly wouldn`t offer it as an option, since I have other options that I can do,” Dr. Holding said.
The cancer associated with these breast implants is not a breast cancer, it is a lymphoma.