What is the link between lymphoma and breast implants? 1 answer on Quora
Although there does appear to be a real link between Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (ALCL) and breast implants, the risk as we currently understand it is extremely low. With 34 documented cases in an estimated 5 to 10 million women with breast implants, the risk is similar to being struck by lightning. No surgery is without risk so it is important to take this new information in context.
Saline and silicone breast implants are the most studied medical devices in history. With breast augmentation becoming the most common cosmetic plastic surgery procedure in the United States it’s important that we understand the risks as thoroughly as possible. That’s what this new FDA announcement is all about: gathering more information so this new, very small risk can be better understood.
If you currently have breast implants in place, whether for cosmetic or reconstructive purposes, you should be aware of any changes in the way your implants look or feel and bring this to the attention of your physician. Most of the reported cases of ALCL have found lymphoma cells in a fluid collection around the implant (see figure to the right). If you have been diagnosed with ALCL in the setting of breast implants, this information should be reported to the FDA by your physician.
It’s important to understand that this information is still preliminary. For instance one of the patients reported developed ALCL within one year after her implant surgery, casting some doubt as to whether there was truly enough time for the implants to have been the cause of the ALCL in this case. Another two patients also had disease in other lymph tissues at the time of diagnosis, raising the possibility that the lymphoma did not develop in the breast but rather may have spread to the breast from other primary locations. This ambiguity in the data is just the reason why we need more information.