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Australian regulators have released a consumer guide detailing what is known about breast implant associated cancer and what information women with breast implants should be aware of about the potential risk.
The guide was published by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) on September 7, outlining a case report involving one woman, Georgia, who was diagnosed with breast implant associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) after receiving breast implants.
Information on the breast implant cancer case is used to explain how the condition can be detected, diagnosed and treated.
BIA-ALCL develops in the breast tissue surrounding the implant, and a growing body of research suggests that women receiving certain large surface area, textured breast implants may face the greatest risk. The TGA indicates that every case confirmed so far in Australia has been linked to a textured breast implant.
Georgia’s story notes that the first sign of a problem was unusual and painful swelling in one of her breasts. She was referred by her doctor back to the surgeon who originally inserted her breast implants.
That surgeon conducted an ultrasound which identified a build-up of fluid near the implant. The fluid was sampled and analyzed, resulting in a breast implant cancer diagnosis.
The TGA notes that in 85% of cases, removing the breast implants and the tissue capsule around them is the only necessary treatment. However, if the cancer has spread or if there is a physical growth involved, additional treatment may be necessary, such as chemotherapy or radiation.
However, removal of Georgia’s implants and the tissue capsules was all that appears to have been necessary. She has had no signs of the return of the cancer in follow-up CT scans.
Breast Implant Cancer Warnings
On January 26, 2011 the FDA first released a report about case studies and epidemiological research that suggested there was a link between breast implants and ALCL.
The agency then issued a statement about emerging information on the breast implant lymphoma problems last year, and a number of subsequent studies have confirmed that the breast implant ALCL cancer risk is real.
In June 2017, a study published in the medical journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery suggested that certain textured breast implants may increase the risk of anaplastic large cell lymphoma anywhere from 10 to 14 times, when compared to smooth breast implants.
In October 2017, a study published in the medical journal JAMA Surgery warned that many breast implant cancer cases worldwide have likely not been reported, and noted that doctors and patients may not be aware of BIA-ALCL.
In March 2018, the FDA indicated that it was aware of more than 400 cases of breast implant-related cancer. As more information becomes public about the breast implant cancer cases, experts have warned that the number of cases reported will likely increase significantly.
As regulators and researchers worldwide continue to evaluate the specific cause of the breast implant lymphoma problems, other women are also raising serious questions about why certain products appear to be more likely to be associated with the development of cancer, and how manufacturers failed to address potential design defects earlier.
Product liability lawyers in the U.S. are now reviewing other potential breast implant cancer lawsuits against Allergan and other manufacturers, for women diagnosed with anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) in recent years.