With the increase of negative reports in both print, online and broadcast media, many women around the world wonder if there is a connection between breast augmentation and breast cancer. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to support the use of breast implants, as extensive studies have proven their safety.

Earlier this year, the FDA reviewed a possible link between breast implants and a rare type of cancer called anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL). This cancer is an aggressive and fast-growing type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that is usually of the T-cell type. The cancer cells express a marker called CD30, which is also called Ki-1 on the surface, and may appear in the lymph nodes, skin, bones, soft tissues, lungs, or liver. However, according to the U.S. National Cancer Institute, ALCL rarely develops in the breast.

Based on reports received the FDA believes that women with breast implants may have a very low but increased risk of developing ALCL adjacent to the breast implant.

Literature review
A literature review identified 34 unique cases of ALCL in women with breast implants worldwide. In total, the agency is aware of approximately 60 cases of ALCL in women with breast implants that were identified through the FDA?s contact with other international regulatory agencies, scientific experts and breast implant manufacturers. This is a very small fraction of the 5-10 million women who have received breast implants worldwide.

More information needed
As additional data is needed, the FDA has asked health care providers to report cases of ALCL in women with breast implants.

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Although women are right to be concerned about any link between breast implants and cancer, there are no accepted studies showing implants cause long-term health problems, including breast cancer or connective tissue diseases. Both saline and silicone breast implants are FDA-approved when used as recommended.

Breast Implants and Mammograms
Breast implants must be considered during breast cancer screening. Women who have implants sould therefor always tell the technician responsible for the screening procedure. Because implants can make reading a mammogram more challenging, it is recommended that women with implants choose a provider that is experienced in screening breasts with implants.

Positioning of implants
How implants are positioned can also have an impact on mammograms. Paul Feldman, M.D., F.A.C.S., F.I.C.S, of Atlanta-based Advanced Aesthetics explains that implants placed beneath the pectoralis muscle, instead of directly behind the breast tissue, generally impact a mammogram less than sub-glandular implants.

Conscious of their body
“On a positive note”, Feldman noted, “Women who choose to get breast implants tend to be more conscious of their bodies and thus check more frequently for breast lumps.” It’s also reportedly easier to see or feel lumps for women with implants.

For more information:
– FDA Medical Device Safety Communication: Reports of Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (ALCL) in Women with Breast Implants
– Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (ALCL) In Women with Breast Implants: Preliminary FDA Findings and Analyses

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