If recent consumer news of a link between having breast implants and getting anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) is prompting calls to the office from worried patients, there are things you can tell your patients that will put the headlines into perspective and might allay their fears.
In a study published this month, researchers conducted a retrospective review of documented cases of breast implant-associated ALCL in the U.S. from 1996 to 2015. They found a statistically significant link between textured breast implants and breast implant-associated ALCL. The risk among women with textured breast implants is low but notably higher than the risk of developing primary ALCL of the breast in the general population.
In March of this year, the FDA released an update (it has been providing data updates since 2011) stating that the FDA concurs with the World Health Organization’s designation of breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL). The FDA went on to say that BIA-ALCL is a rare T-cell lymphoma that can develop after getting breast implants.
So, what does this mean to the millions of women with breast implants? Alex K. Wong, M.D., associate professor of clinical surgery in the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern Calif., tells Cosmetic Surgery Times, that the U.S. FDA and other similar regulatory agencies around the world, such as the Australian Therapeutic Goods Association, have reported a possible association — with emphasis on “possible” — between silicone breast implants and anaplastic large cell lymphoma.
“While both surgeons and patients should be aware of this type of lymphoma, the number of cases reported is still very low (359 total, reported by the FDA) and, thus, it is a rare disease,” Dr. Wong says. “Current data suggests that textured implants are more commonly associated with ALCL, relative to smooth surface devices. At present, there is no definitive statistical proof that silicone breast implants cause anaplastic large cell lymphoma, and, thus, they remain approved for use in the United States and abroad.”
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