Nine deaths were reported to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stemming from a rare cancer that is associated with breast implants.
The extremely rare cancer called anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) affects the cells of the immune system and can be found around the breast implant. It may be in the skin or in lymph nodes, and it is not a type of breast cancer.
“All the information to date suggests that women with breast implants have a very low but increased risk of developing ALCL compared to women who do not have breast implants,” the FDA reported.
On Tuesday, the FDA released an update on its knowledge of ALCL cases associated with breast implants.
The agency has received 359 reports of breast cancer-related breast cancer cases through February 1. However, the exact number of cases “remains difficult to determine due to significant limitations in reporting globally and the lack of global data on implant sales,” the agency said.
What science shows in the last six years
In 2011, the FDA first raised the possibility of a small but significant risk of developing cancer after receiving breast implants. Doctors were asked to review changes in their patients and women to check for symptoms such as fluid build-up, hardening, or a mass around their implants. Cancer symptoms also include swelling and redness around breast implants.
Since the report six years ago, the scientific community has more knowledge about the relationship between breast implants and ALCL.
Most cancer cases occurred in people who had textured surfaces on their implants, rather than smooth surfaces. Of the 231 reports submitted to FDA containing implant information, 203 had textured surfaces and 28 had smooth surfaces.
Until now, most ALCL cases have been described as slow-growing and treatable if caught early.
Between 10 and 11 million women worldwide have breast implants, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the Plastic Surgery Foundation. Fewer than 10 patients are diagnosed annually with ALCL-related breast implant and one study estimated an incidence of 1 in 300,000, according to the two groups.
What to do if you have breast implants
Breast implants are still very popular in the. With 290,467, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, it is the most aesthetic surgery practiced in the country.
People who are thinking about having surgery should research and talk to their surgeon about the risks and benefits of smooth or textured surface implants, advises the FDA.
People who already have breast implants should be vigilant of any changes and do routine exams such as mammograms or MRIs as recommended by their doctors, the agency suggested.