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Australian researchers have identified a number factors that may influence the risk of breast implant lymphoma, including a combination of textured surfaces, biofilm that develops around the implants, and the genetics of certain women.
In recent years, concerns have emerged about a number of women diagnosed with a rare type of cancer that develops in the tissue surrounding certain breast implants, known as breast implant-associated anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL).
As part of a report published last week in the medical journal Current Hematologic Malignancy Reports, researchers compiled and evaluated existing theories and evidence on the risk of lymphoma from breast implants. While textured breast implants play a significant part in causing the lymphoma, researchers indicate that other factors are at play as well.
A growing body of research suggests that women receiving certain large surface area, textured breast implants may face the greatest risk. Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has been at the forefront of investigations into the condition, and indicates that every case confirmed so far in Australia has been linked to a textured breast implant.
In this latest study, researchers looked at data and theories on epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical evaluation and management of BIA-ALCL. According to their analysis, breast implant lymphoma may be the result of a combination of textured implants, gram-negative bacteria contained in a biofilm that develops around the implants, genetics and time.
The researchers noted that BIA-ALCL is usually diagnosed an average of eight to 10 years after implantation. They also indicate that the condition has evolved from a liquid tumor model to a solid tumor classification, and that surgery involving implant removal and complete capsulectomy are the basis of treatment. However, in more advanced cases, chemptherapy, radiotherapy and antibody drug conjugates may be required.
“The interplay between the Gram-negative biofilm, implant texturing, genetic mutations and time has been implicated in pathogenesis of BIA-ALCL,” the researchers concluded. “Future research, investigating BIA-ALCL genetic mutations and immunological modulation with Gram-negative biofilm in BIA-ALCL models is warranted.”
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 lymphoma lawsuits against Allergan and other manufacturers, for women diagnosed with anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) in recent years.