FDA Warns of Possible Link between Breast Implants and Rare Cancer

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reported a possible link between breast implants and a rare type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma known as anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL).

Worldwide, an estimated 5 million to 10 million women have breast implants. Thus far, ALCL has been reported in only 60 women, but close examination of some of these cases prompted the FDA to state that women with breast implants may have a very small but increased risk of developing ALCL.

ALCL involves cells of the immune system. In the cases evaluated by the FDA, ALCL was found within the scar capsule around the breast implant. ALCL has been reported in women with saline and silicone implants, and tended to be diagnosed years after the implant surgery. The diagnosis of ALCL was often made after a woman noticed changes in the look or feel of the area surrounding the implant.

The FDA makes the following recommendations for women with implants:

The FDA is establishing a registry to collect information about additional cases of ALCL in women with breast implants, and asks that healthcare professionals report any confirmed cases. The FDA will provide updates as information becomes available. In the meantime, the FDA notes that “the existing data support the continued marketing and use of breast implants.”

Reference: FDA Consumer Health Information. FDA advises women with breast implants. January 2011.

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