Breast Implants Linked to Rare Blood Cancer – What Should You Do Now?

The FDA is investigating the link between breast implants and anaplastic large cell lymphoma. Read up on it here.

Breast implants may increase the risk of a rare blood cancer called anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL). The Food and Drug Administration and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons are now developing a national registry that will document all cases of ALCL in women with saline breast implants and silicone-filled breast implants.

ALCL is not breast cancer. It is a type of lymphoma (blood cancer) that specifically affects white blood cells called T cells. Among women with breast implants, this cancer occurs in the capsule of scar tissue that forms around the implant.

There have been 60 cases of ALCL worldwide to date among the 5 to 10 million women who have received breast implants for cosmetic or reconstructive reasons. But even that small number appears to be in excess of the usual incidence of the disease. This type of lymphoma in the breast is seen in just three of every 100 million women without breast implants.

There is reason to believe that this cancer is less aggressive when it is linked with breast implants than it is in women without breast implants. Treatment may often only entail breast implant removal, although some women may also need radiation or chemotherapy.

Symptoms of ALCL in the presence of breast implants may include:

  • Persistent swelling
  • Pain around the implant
  • Lumps
  • Breast asymmetry

These symptoms may occur years after the surgical incision has healed. Discuss any symptoms with your physician. For information on other complications, please read our article on breast implant complications or visit our overview article on breast implant risks.

Please bookmark this page. We will keep you posted on any new developments on the link between breast implants and ALCL.