Breast Implants Associated With a Rare Cancer of the Blood

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there are approximately 9 women whose deaths were caused by a unique cancer of the blood after they had breast implants. Now the FDA is officially recognizing the possible association of the breast implants to the disease.

FDA announced on Tuesday that, as of the month of February, they were able to collect 359 reported cases of deaths linked to an unusual kind of lymphoma. It is called the ALCL, or the anaplastic large cell lymphoma. This cancer was typically found in women with breast implants that had textured surfaces more than those with smooth ones.

Last year, there were approximately 290,000 reported cases of patients who had breast implants done without tracking the kind of surface textures embedded.

231 cases out of the 359 reported to the Food & Drug Administration were able to provide the information about the type of breast implants they had.

Of the 231 cases that were reported, 28 of these were patients who had implanted a smooth surface while the other 203 had the ones with a textured surface.

There was no confirmed association of cancer to the breast implant surface. The surface texture may be partly responsible for the blood cancer or it could just be a factor that leads to higher chances of occurrence of the said type of disease.

According to a plastic surgeon, Dhivya Srinivasa, the textured surface of the other kind of implants are made to allow the growth of the tissue around the gaps of the breast implant itself. She is also a lead author of reviews on the association of breast implants with the ALCL.

The reason for the texturing of the implants is for prevention of capsular contracture.

A capsular contracture happens when the tissue that became scars surrounding the breast implant hardens and later becomes painful for the patient to bear.

Due to the many kinds of surgeries and ways on how to do breast implants, it may be quite difficult to identify which kind of textured surfaces are responsible for this kind of blood cancer.

Since 2011, researchers and physicians themselves have been exploring the possibilities of a link between the ALCL and the textured and smooth surfaced breast implants.

However, among all the reports of deaths associated with it, there were not as many cases that concluded a possible link between the two.

After years of attempting to know the causes of the disease, a “reporting system” was launched by the Plastic Surgery Foundation. Doctors from around the globe are expected to submit disease cases that have resulted from complications of breast implants in patients.

Just last year, WHO (World Health Organization) said that the ALCL was classified into a different diagnosis according to health officials from France and Australia, who made efforts in tracking and assessing the link between the ALCL and breast implants.

A most recent study that was published early this year has given an estimate of lifetime occurrence of the ALCL in women who have had textured breast implants, which make up 33 persons per 1 million persons affected.