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The findings of a new study indicate that having multiple breast implants or a past history of breast cancer may place women at an increased the risk of developing a rare type of cancer known as breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL), which may develop in the tissue surrounding an artificial breast.
French researchers announced their findings earlier this month at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting, indicating that while BIA-ALCL cases appear to remain in complete remission after breast implants are removed, they found certain factors that appear to increase the risk of its occurrence.
Commonly referred to as breast implant-associated ALCL, or BIA-ALCL, the cancer 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.
In this latest study, which has not yet been published or peer-reviewed, researchers identified 46 cases of breast implant lymphoma in the French Lymphopath network since 2010, and have analyzed 29 of those cases so far.
According to the findings, the median age was 62 years old. In 15 of the cases, the patients received implants after a mastectomy for breast cancer. Ten were implanted twice and six received three or more implants over the course of their lives. The findings indicate that after two years following breast implant removal, 25 of the patients were alive and free of tumors. Three patients died from lymphoma progression, and one died of concomitant active breast cancer.
The study also found that most of the implants were textured and filled with silicone.
“In situ BIA-ALCLs have an indolent clinical course and remain in complete remission mainly after implant removal. Infiltrative BIA-ALCLs have a more aggressive clinical course,” the researchers determined. “Multiple implants and/or a past history of breast cancer could favor the occurrence of BIA-ALCL. New insights into the biology of BIA-ALCL might translate into more targeted and effective therapies.”
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 lawsuits against Allergan and other manufacturers, for women diagnosed with anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) in recent years.