Wednesday, January 26th, 2011
The FDA has issued a statement alerting physicians and patients to a possible link between breast implants and a rare type of cancer. Although ALCL is extremely rare, the FDA believes that women with breast implants may have a very small but increased risk of developing the condition.
ALCL in the presence of breast implants has been noted in sporadic case reports over the past 25 years. To date, ALCL has only been identified in 34 cases out of an estimated 5 to 10 million women with implants worldwide. As opposed to systemic ALCL which can occur anywhere in the body, this condition appears in the scar tissue that forms around the implant. It is encouraging that when this condition occurs in the presence of breast implants the patients have responded to a variety of treatments, including simple removal of the implant and surrounding scar capsule.
ASAPS (American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery) recommends that all women including those with breast implants should follow their normal routine in medical care and follow-up, specifically regular self examination and mammography when appropriate. Any woman should watch for changes in her breasts such as pain and swelling and contact her physician if she has any questions.
For my patients with breast implants, I don’t recommend that they lose any sleep over this. The disease is very rare and a connection between ALCL and breast implants has not been conclusively proven. There is some thought that the salt-texturing of the shell of a textured breast implant may be the connection between breast implants and ALCL. Joan Kron’s excellent article in Allure (which can be found here) touches on this hypothesis.
Here are the recommendations from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS):
For the FDA press release, click here.
For the ASPS website, click here.
Saturday, September 27th, 2008
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Each year over 175,000 women (and 2000 men!) are diagnosed with breast cancer. Approximately 1 in 9 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Aside from skin cancer, it is the most common cancer in women. So how does this affect you if you have breast implants?
It’s estimated that over 5 million women have breast implants today. If you have breast implants, how do you screen yourself for breast cancer, and how is this different from someone without implants?
The major rule is that you should follow the American Cancer Society guidelines for the early detection of breast cancer. Here they are:
Women ages 20-39: Monthly breast self-exam, clinical exam by your physician every three years.
Women ages 40 and up: Monthly breast self-exam, clinical exam by your physician every year, mammogram yearly.
Women at high risk (close family history of breast cancer, etc.) should discuss with their physician whether a yearly MRI may be indicated. – When the FDA lifted the ban on silicone gel breast implants in November 2006, they recommended that anyone who undergoes silicone gel breast augmentation undergo an MRI three years after surgery, and every other year thereafter.
If you have breast implants, here are some other things to consider:
For more information on breast cancer and screening, visit http://www.cancer.org/.
Thanks for reading!
Anthony Youn, M.D.