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On Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a statement confirming that there is a direct link between breast implants and a rare form of blood cancer known as Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (ALCL) In the United States, at least 457 women were diagnosed with an anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) associated with the breast implant. Nine of them died, according to the latest report from the FDA.
A shock to some is not the first time that the FDA has raised the alert on BIA-ALCL: doctors have reported incidents of this particular cancer since 201
"We hope that this information will lead providers and patients to have important informed discussions about breast implants and the risk of BIA-ALCL," they said in the statement. They also published a letter requesting health care providers to continue to report possible cases to the Agency to the BIA-ALCL.
Should women with breast implants be worried about cancer?
To begin with, it is important to note that women with all types of implants have an increased risk of developing ALCL. However, the FDA found that structured implants in particular tend to present the greatest risk. (Some women opt for structured implants because they will prevent them from slipping or moving over time.) Smooth implants are more likely to move and eventually need to be readjusted, but generally feel more natural.)
Women with implants quite low. Based on the latest figures received by the organization, BIA-ALCL can develop in 1 out of 3 817 out of 1 in 30 000 women with structured breast implants.
Nevertheless, "this is far greater than previously reported," Dr. Elisabeth Potter, a specialist in plastic surgery and reconstruction experts, tells Shape . "If a woman has structured implants, she needs to understand the risk of developing BIA-ALCL." (See also: How can I get rid of my breast implants after a double mastectomy?)
At the moment it is not clear why structured implants are more prone to BIA-ALCL, but some doctors have their theories. "In my own experience, textured implants create a more adhesive capsule around the breast implant, which differs from the capsule around a smooth implant in that the capsule around a textured implant adheres more strongly to the surrounding tissue," Dr. Potter. "BIA-ALCL is a cancer of the immune system, so there may be an interaction between the immune system and this structured capsule that contributes to the disease."
Relationships between BIA-ALCL and Breast Implant Disease
You may have heard of breast implant disease (BII) before, or at least in the last few months, because it has grown in importance among the influencers who have spoken about their mysterious attacks has symptoms and theories about how they relate to their implants. The term is used by women to describe a range of symptoms due, inter alia, to fractured breast implants or product allergy. This disease is currently unrecognized by doctors, but thousands of women have accessed the Internet to report how their implants led to inexplicable symptoms, all of which had disappeared after removing their implants. (Sia Cooper has told us all about her struggles here, in: I've removed my breast implants and feel better than in recent years)
Although BIA-ALCL and BII are two very different things, there's a possibility that Women do this I think they are allergic to their implants and could have something better like BIA-ALCL. "I think it's important to listen to women and continue collecting data on adverse events related to implants," says Dr. Potter. "If we listen and understand, we'll learn, and this new report on BIA-ALCL is an example."
What does this mean for the future of breast implants?
Each year, 400,000 women choose breast implants in the US alone. Whether this number will decrease despite the new findings of the FDA, can not be determined. As mentioned, the likelihood of developing such a serious problem as BIA-ALCL is quite low – to be exactly 0.1 percent. Therefore, the threat is not great enough to suddenly change everyone's mind about breast implants. (Related: 6 Things I've Learned From My Bungled Boob Job)
"Breast implants have been extensively studied and are still available for use by the FDA in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery," Dr. Potter. "The adverse event reporting system is in place to ensure that our safety knowledge evolves over time as we learn more from patients' experiences, and our understanding of the safety of breast implants is evolving, of course, and the FDA's testimony reflects that (Related: This influencer made the decision to have their implants removed and breast-fed)
What we need is more research. "We need to understand more about the disease to treat it and prevent it," says Dr. Potter. "For this to happen, women need to speak out, and if you have breast implants, you need to work for your own health."
What Women Should Know About Breast Implants
If you're considering getting something implants, educating about what exactly you're putting into your body is the key, Dr. Potter. "You need to know if the implant is externally textured or smooth, what type of material the implant will fill (saline or silicone), the shape of the implant (round or teardrop shaped), the manufacturer's name, and the year the implant has been placed", she explains. "Ideally, your surgeon will give you a map with this information and the serial number of the implants." This can help you if there is a recall on the implant or if an adverse reaction occurs.
It is also important to know that the breast implant industry itself is taking some steps to respond to this claim that women feel safer. "Some new implants now have warranties that cover the medical costs of testing for BIA-ALCL," says Dr. Potter.
However, on a broader level, it is important for women to know that implants are not perfect and that there are no implants there. Other options may be available to them. "In my own practice, I've seen a dramatic shift from implant-based breast reconstruction to reconstruction that uses no implant at all, and in the future, I hope all women, including women, can get the most up-to-date surgeries that their breasts make from cosmetic ones Want to improve without needing an implant, "she says.
Meanwhile, the complaints and concerns surrounding breast implants have pushed the FDA to hold a public meeting scheduled for this year. "Ensure that patients and healthcare providers continue to have accurate, science-based information about the safety and efficacy of breast implants . "
Conclusion: While this report raises some red flags, it also begins an important dialogue and encourages health professionals to take the woman's symptoms seriously.