This past week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a surprising report, linking a rare type of cancer with breast implants. To date, nine deaths have been reported. Although the chances of developing this specific type of cancer is extremely small, it remains a slight risk. However, before you panic, get the full facts of breast implant-related cancer.
What you need to know about ALCL:
Six years ago, in 2011, the FDA noted a slight, but persistent, risk of cancer associated with breast implants, both silicone and saline. At this time, they urged doctors to take note and report any change in breast tissue following an augmentation procedure. Through a combined effort with plastic surgeons, a lot has been learned about a woman’s chances for developing cancer after receiving implants. More research is still underway.
One specific type of cancer noted by scientists, Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (ALCL), attacks cells in the immune system. While not an actual type of breast cancer, ALCL can sometimes be seen developing in the skin or lymph nodes surrounding a breast implant. “All of the information to date suggests that women with breast implants have a very low, but increased, risks of developing ALCL, compared to women who do not have breast implants,” the FDA stated.
The FDA’s findings show that fewer than 10 patients are diagnosed with ALCL every year; an incidence of about 1 in 3,000. This is a small number, considering between 10 and 11 million women around the world have breast implants. The positive news is that most cases of ALCL are considered to be slow growing cancers and treatable when detected early.
What should you do if you already have implants?
According to the newest statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, more than 290,400 breast implants were performed in 2016, keeping the procedure the number one most popular cosmetic surgery in the United States. If you are one of the millions of women who already have implants, do not worry. Your chances of developing ALCL are extremely small. However, you should perform routine breast examinations, monitor the breasts for any changes, and get routine screenings (mammogram or MRI) as recommended by your doctor.
What if you are considering getting implants in the near future?
Those women considering breast implants need not fear the procedure. While there is a slight chance for developing ALCL, this is a minimal risk. In fact, breast augmentation poses a small chance for other complications, as well, such as capsular contracture and leakage. You should discuss all of the implant risks with your surgeon carefully before the procedure, as he/she can walk you through what to look for and what to do should any red flags occur. Remember, choose an experienced board certified plastic surgeon to perform your breast augmentation, as this decreases the chance of post-op complications.
Dr. Paul Vitenas has more than 25 years of breast augmentation experience. Vitenas Cosmetic Surgery is located in Houston, Texas, but Dr. Vitenas is sought out by patients from across the state, around the country, and even internationally. These women know there is no substitute for a board certified plastic surgeons with decades of breast augmentation experience.
Read more about Dr. Vitenas’ breast augmentation procedure here. Call our office at 281.407.7428 for more information, or to ask your questions, no matter how large or small. If you are not in the Houston area, remember to ask about setting up your virtual consultation with Dr. Vitenas.