Do Breast Implants Cause Cancer?

Most safety concerns about breast implants have been all but disproved by years of medical research. This week, however, the FDA announced a surprising new possible link between breast implants and cancer-and it's not breast cancer.

Nearly 60 cases of a very rare blood cancer called anaplastic large cell lymphoma, or ALCL, have been reported in women who have saline and silicone breast implants. Although the number may seem low, it's unusually high compared to the general population.

Prior to the FDA's announcement, a handful of studies had suggested that the materials making up the implant shell could be toxic, increasing the risk for ALCL, which has formed around the shell in most of the reported cases.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons is working with the FDA to create a registry that will allow for closer examination of ALCL cases in women with breast implants.

The FDA does not recommend that the millions of women with breast implants have them removed; and furthermore, medical experts say it shouldn't necessarily sway a woman's decision about whether or not she should undergo breast augmentation. However, if you experience unusual pain and breast swelling months or years after your surgery, it would be wise to discuss your symptoms with your doctor.

And fortunately, in the extremely rare instance of a diagnosis, ALCL is very treatable, especially when caught early.

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8 Comments
  • M Johnston
    Posted on

    Would those so called experts get silicone enhancement in their lower regions. No,I doubt it as they are lying through their teeth saying "silicone breast Implants are safe " They know the score....Furthermore, has all the scientific evidence including John swanson's Informed consent (largest lawsuit in history) fallen on ignorant, greedy, deaf ears.... I am lucky to have live past 50 years old after becoming a victom of Silicone poising .... 'Hell mend' those who put profits in front of people health! A holoucaust indeed!

  • Bev
    Posted on

    My recent diagnostic mammogram showed not signs of an unusual mass or growth in the breasts. However,after complaining for the past year of a quarter sized lump in my left throat area, along with the last 3-4 months of real soreness in the left side of the breast, continuing on into my left under arm area being also very tender/sore, raises the question in my mind of what is causeing the soreness. 40 years ago I had silicone breast implants. About 10 years ago a boston medical surgeon said to take the implants out would require a first and second operation, due to the fact that they where incapsulated. I did not have the implants out. Tomorrow I have an appointment with a cancer doctor to have the sore area tested to see what it going on. What are the symptons of ALCL? Was is recommened for treatment? Thank you.

  • sgoad
    Posted on

    I was the 51st woman to be diagnosed with this cancer. I would like to here from any of the other 59 women.

  • anonymous
    Posted on

    Again the media has panicked all the women with breast plants. I heard the news 2 days after implantation of my third set (my second set of implants ruptured). Although I panicked at first about the news, I remembered the first scare (1990's) and chalked it up to news sensationalism. I also have a good doctor (Dr. Jason Leedy, Cleveland, Ohio) who set me straight on this disturbing news. Thank you doctors on this site for giving others a sense of calm. Women take heart, if your doctor thought for one minute this product was harmful to us, they would be calling us in, one by one, for removal.mp Breast imlants have been the most researched device in history. Until we hear news solidifying harm, trust your doctor, be aware of changes in your breast area and read to keep current on the subject.

  • moi
    Posted on

    Perhaps a female surgeon could comment? Please?

  • Anonymous
    Posted on

    At first glance to anyone that has breast implants or is thinking about breast augmentation surgery, this might be alarming. These women and the public in general should know the facts before jumping to false conclusions and making irrational decisions. While there seems to be a slight increase in the rate of women having the assigned diagnosis of a rare form of cancer called ALCL, the total number of women with this "diagnosis" is extremely rare. I have been in practice almost 20 years and I have never seen a patient with this disease. So far there are about 60 women out of a population of close to 10 million women with implants. When looking at the science even further, it is not even completely certain whether or not these 60 women with this "ALCL" diagnosis truly have ALCL. It may very well be a similar looking finding histologically (under the microscope) but clinically may be a completely different problem. To date, no one in this group of 60 women have died from this disease. I can assure you that the ASPS, ASAPS, Mentor and Allergan, in conjunction with the FDA are voraciously investigating this matter and will have definitive answers as soon as possible. In the meantime, it is recommended that women with breast implants continue their normal routine in medical care and follow-up, specifically regular self-examination and mammography when appropriate. Women with breast implants should watch for changes in their breasts such as pain and swelling, and contact their plastic surgeon if they have questions.

  • Richard Baxter Anonymous
    Posted on

    The FDA's notice on the possible association of this rare tumor has caused a lot of confusion. One thing to bear in mind is that the condition is a growth in the capsule around textured implants, and although it looks like ALCL microscopically, it's behavior is much more benign. Another thing is how execeedingly rare it is. While we may expect a few more cases to be reported following the FDA's call for monitoring, at the present time statistics show that you are more likely to be struck by lightning.

  • anonymous
    Posted on

    Thank you to Dr. Prak for the input and advice regarding breast implants.

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