FDA Issues Warning On Cancer Linked To Breast Implants

A new warning from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been issued that concerns a rare cancer linked to breast implants. The warning applies to all types of breast implants and the FDA is recommending laboratory testing to confirm or rule out of the disease. Next month, the FDA is planning to hold a two-day meeting on the safety of breast implants.

The cancer that is causing the concern is known as breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma. Of the 660 reports received in the past decade, officials said 457 unique cases of the cancer have now been confirmed. Nine patient deaths are being attributed to the disease.

U.S. health officials say they are seeing more reports of this particular type of cancer. The FDA received nearly 250 new reports of the disease in the last year. Many of those reports may have been duplicate reports, so estimates range from 1 in 3,000 patients to 1 in 30,000 patients. The agency is working with other health agencies and researchers to better understand the cancer.

Breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma is not breast cancer, but develops in the scar tissue that forms around implants. The agency first reported the link between the cancer and breast implants in 2011.

Symptoms of the cancer include lumps, swelling, and pain around the breasts. The most common treatment is surgery to remove the implant. The cancer is a slow-growing one, so early detection is key. FDA spokeswoman Stephanie Caccomo said, “Having everyone informed about this is in the best interest of the patient.”

Roughly 400,000 women in the U.S. receive implants annually. An estimated 1.5 million patients receive breast implants worldwide every year. According to FDA estimates, 1 in 5 women getting implants for cosmetic reasons must have them removed within 8 to 10 years.