Anaplastic large cell lymphoma can, in rare cases, develop in women with breast implants, according to a statement by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Lymphoma seems to develop more often in women with textured rather than smooth implants.
Since the cancer has only been identified in patients who experience symptoms such as pain, swelling, and asymmetry, the FDA currently does not recommend removing breast implants in women who don’t have symptoms.
The updated view reflects WHO’s (World Health Organization) designation of breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) as “a rare T-cell lymphoma that can develop following breast implants.”
The FDA discovered the possible link between breast implants and this type of non-Hodgkin’s T-cell lymphoma in 2011. At the time, the few cases available prevented researchers from determining factors that increased the risk of this cancer.
The latest update stated that cancer is usually detected in patients who undergo surgical revision of their implants because of late-onset persistent seroma — a buildup of fluid that develops in the body after surgery.
The agency has continuously worked to gather more information about the cancer. It is currently unknown exactly how many people are affected, since global reporting of cases and implant sales data are not available.
The FDA recommends physicians continue providing routine care and support to patients with implants who show no symptoms. Surgeons are also encouraged to provide patients with the manufacturers’ labeling of the implants, along with any other available educational materials before surgery, to foster informed discussions about the risks and benefits of different implants.
Patients are also encouraged to talk to their healthcare providers about the benefits and risks of textured-surface and smooth-surfaced implants before they consider surgery. For women who already have implants, the agency said there’s no need to change routine care and follow-ups.
The FDA urges both healthcare professionals and patients to report all confirmed cases of this type of cancer in women with breast implants to the agency. This can be done through the FDA’s MedWatch Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program by clicking on this link: www.fda.gov/MedWatch/report.
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