Is there a link between breast implants and cancer?
It’s normal to worry about complications when considering elective surgery. In fact, Alan Greenberg MD, our Frisco cosmetic surgeon, advises patients to ask questions and learn everything they can about any procedure. Thus, when the news reported on an FDA study about a link between breast implants and cancer, we knew women would have questions.
Is this a common problem with breast implants?
The incidence of breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) is very rare. According to the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, there have been 660 reports of it, and only nine fatalities in the United States in this decade. This is out of the millions of women who have breast implants.
Is BIA-ALCL the same as breast cancer?
It is NOT a form of breast cancer. ALCL is a rare type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that affects the immune system. It occurs when abnormal T-cells build up in the lymph nodes. BIA-ALCL is an even rarer form of ALCL that develops in the normal scar tissue surrounding breast implants, instead of in the lymph nodes.
What causes BIA-ALCL?
There is no definitive answer, but researchers have the following theories about the link between breast implants and cancer.
- Textured implants from some manufacturers create the ideal environment for the development of ALCL in the breast capsule.
- A strain of bacteria, Ralstonia pickettii, can be found in the layer of microorganisms around a breast implant. A single study theorized that patients with a higher amount of pickettii were more likely to develop BIA-ALCL.
Symptoms to watch
As with any condition, it’s important to seek medical care when you notice anything unusual with your body. BIA-ALCL is highly treatable when caught early. Symptoms may mimic other issues, such as capsular contraction, which can be treated with corrective surgery. Seek help if you notice the following symptoms associated with breast implants and cancer.
- Breast pain and swelling
- Excess fluid accumulating around the breast implant (seroma)
- A rash on the skin around the breast
Should I have my textured implants removed?
Our Frisco cosmetic surgeon does not recommend removing textured implants. The threat of BIA-ALCL is extremely low, and it does not warrant additional surgery. Of course, breast implants are not guaranteed to last a lifetime, so you may prefer smooth implants in the future.
What should I do if I have questions about breast implants and cancer?
Dr. Greenberg welcomes questions from women who already have breast implants and those considering a breast augmentation. Contact our Frisco cosmetic surgeon for a free consultation. We want women in Frisco, Plano, Dallas and North Texas to have the same confidence regarding their health as they do about their appearance.