Breast Implants and Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma: What's the Connection?

Breast Implants linked to anaplastic large cell lymphoma. Don't panic. Get the facts first here.

Women with breast implants may be at an increased risk for a rare form of cancer called anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL). This is not breast cancer. It is a lymphoma (a type of blood cancer) that affects white blood cells called T cells. The Food and Drug Administration, in collaboration with the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, is now developing a national registry to track cases of ALCL in women with breast implants and better understand any possible connection between the two.

To date, there have only been 34 documented cases among 5 to 10 million women with breast implants worldwide. Another 26 anecdotal reports of ALCL cases in women with implants have come from doctors, regulators and implant manufacturers. This link has been seen with both saline breast implants and silicone breast implants.

The cases of ALCL seen in women with breast implants occur in the scar tissue that forms around the breast implant. Exactly how breast implants could be causing the cancer is not yet known. This disease appears to be less aggressive when it is linked to breast implants than when it occurs in other individuals. Breast implant removal is often an effective way to treat the disease in these women.

ALCL and Breast Implants: Are You at Risk?

Most plastic surgeons stress that ALCL in the presence of breast implants is exceedingly rare. Symptoms may include persistent swelling and/or pain around the implant. These symptoms occur long after the surgical incisions have healed. Women without ALCL symptoms do not need to have their breast implants removed.

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

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    Ronald H. Schuster, MD

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    Anna I Wooten, MD

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    Joshua A. Greenwald, MD, FACS

    Greenwald Plastic Surgery
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