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Breast Implants Cancer Risk Highlighted in New 2018 Study

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Certain types of breast implants may increase the risk of a rare form of cancer by a factor of 400, according to the findings of a new study that adds to a growing body of research. 

Researchers from the Netherlands published a study in the medical journal JAMA Oncology on January 4, indicating that breast implants, particularly textured ones, appear to carry a 400-fold increased risk of breast anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (ALCL), and say their findings almost guarantee a causal connection between breast implants and the cancer.

Amid growing concerns over breast implant-associated anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (ALCL), this latest study appears to better quantify the risks, and is the latest of a number of studies to find a link specifically between textured implants and the rare form of breast cancer.

Researchers looked at data from a nationwide Dutch pathology registry from 1990 to 2016 to identify all patients diagnosed with primary non-Hodgkin lymphoma of the breast. They looked at data on breast implant status patient’s ages, and other types of breast lymphoma.

According to the findings, the researchers found 43 patients with breast-ALCL. Of those 32 had breast implants. According to their findings, having a breast implant carried a risk of ALCL that was nearly 422 times higher than if a woman did not have a breast implant. Of the cases the researchers found, 82% involved macrotextured implants, even though they made up a minority of implants used in women from the registry.

While the overall risk of breast ALCL remained small, even among women with artificial implants, the researchers noted that the condition was almost exclusive to breast implant recipients. They found that, by age 75, the cumulative risk of breast ALCL for women without breast implants was 0.35 per million. However, in comparison, 82 women out of one million will develop breast ALCL if they have breast implants by age 70, the researchers found.

“Based on what is the largest population-based study conducted thus far, with nationwide coverage of breast-ALCL cases in the period from 1990 to 2016, we now confirm that implants strongly increase the risk of this rare type of lymphoma,” the researchers concluded. “Our relative risk estimate of over 400, implying an attributable risk approaching 100%, is highly suggestive of a direct or indirect causal role of the breast implant in breast implant-associated ALCL (BIA-ALCL).”

Breast Implants Lymphoma

Last year, the FDA issued warnings about breast implant lymphoma rates, indicating that the agency was aware of at least 359 medical device reports worldwide involving women diagnosed with the rare form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, including at least nine deaths.

In June, another 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 Surgerywarned 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. 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, many women are 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 reviewing potential textured breast implant lawsuits for women diagnosed with anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL), which develops in the tissue surrounding the breast.

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