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Chronic inflammation caused by textured breast implants appears to be one of the main mechanisms which leads to the development of a rare type of cancer experienced by many women, which is now commonly referred to as breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL).
In a study published in the January 2021 issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, a journal run by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, researchers with Stanford University and the University of Texas indicate the design of certain breast implants may cause conditions inside the microenvironment of the breast that activate one of the body’s signally pathways linked to different types of lymphomas similar to BIA-ALCL, which is often referred to as a breast implant lymphoma.
Last year, Allergan was forced to issue worldwide breast implant recalls for its entire line of “Biocell” macrotextured products, after the design was linked to reports of the rare lymphoma diagnosed among women worldwide, often resulting in the need for cancer treatments and removal of the breast implant.
Nearly all reported cases of the breast implant lymphoma were identified among women who received the Biocell textured surface design, which may be the cause of chronic inflammation in the surrounding tissue. However, the exact mechanism of action resulting in the cancer was not confirmed at that time.
In this new study, researchers looked at the Janus kinase-signal transducer and activator of transcription (JAK-STAT3) signaling pathway. This pathway regulates a number of processes which controls intracellular growth and cell survival. However, partial activation of this pathway has been linked with a number of different types of cancers, and some research has pointed to it being involved in BIA-ALCL.
The researchers conducted a number of experiments on aberrant JAK-STAT3 activation.
According to their findings, breast implants may cause chronic inflammation in the breast’s microenvironment, which may accidentally activate the pathway and play a role in the creation of BIA-ALCL tumors and their growth.
“Recent molecular studies have expanded the concept that aberrant JAK-STAT3 signaling may be a critical component in BIA-ALCL tumorigenesis and progression and may provide a novel therapeutic target for select patients,” the researchers concluded. “As such, larger, comprehensive oncogenomic studies are needed to better define the genetic landscape of BIA-ALCL, the frequency at which JAK-STAT3 pathway mutations occur, and their functional significance.”
The study comes as Allergan faces a growing number of breast implant lawsuits filed by women diagnosed with the rare cancer, as well as women who have required removal of the recalled implants due to concerns they may develop the lymphoma in the future. The complaints all raise similar allegations that the manufacturer knew about problems associated with the textured design for years, yet failed to warn women, the medical community or federal regulators, continuing to promote the textured design as safe and effective.
There are currently at least 300 class action and product liability lawsuits filed throughout the federal court system, which have been consolidated for pretrial proceedings in New Jersey. However, as breast implant cancer lawyers continue to review and file claims in the coming weeks and months, the size and scope of the litigation is expected to continue to grow.