The U. S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an announcement stating that a link has been discovered between breast implants and a rare form of cancer, Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (ALCL).
What is Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (ALCL)?
Lymphoma, the most common form of blood cancer, is found in two main forms: Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). Additionally, the body has two types of lymphocytes (white blood cells that help defend the body against diseases), and these are B calls and T cells.
B cells produce antibodies that fight bacteria and toxins. C cells attack body cells when they have become cancerous.
Cancerous lymphocytes are able to travel to many locations in the body, including the lymph nodes and spleen, and they also can accumulate to form tumors. Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma is a non-Hodgkin lymphoma of the immune system that is extremely rare. ALCL affects roughly 3 in 100 million women per year in the United States.
Five to 10 million women, worldwide, have had breast implants containing saline, silicone, or gel. Of these millions of women, the number reported to have ALCL is 60. Evidence of these 60 incidences of ALCL was collected by the FDA from scientists, international regulatory agencies and manufacturers of breast implants.
Although the risk of developing ALCL after breast implants is rare, it is still considered significant because of its localized occurrence in the breast cavity, adjacent to the implant. It is not a cancer of the actual breast tissue.
Symptoms of ALCL in the breast cavity are similar to implant-related symptoms of pain, lumps, swelling or asymmetry that begins after the initial surgical site has healed.
The FDA is urging recipients of breast implants who are experiencing ALCL symptoms to see their doctor for further testing. It is also urging plastic surgeons with confirmed ALCL patients post-implants to report these cases to the FDA.
Routine medical care for recipients of breast implants consists of breast self exam, an appointment with health care provider if changes in the breasts are noticed, routine mammograms, and period MRIs to check for ruptures in silicone gel-filled implants.
The FDA has instructed plastic surgeons to inform their breast-implant patients and potential patients of the FDA’s new finding regarding the link between breast implants and ALCL. Other than that, the normal treatment recommendations remain the same.
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