Breast implants: they are not as rare as you might suppose, and they are not limited only to actresses or the wealthy. Some professionals believe that slightly fewer than 5 percent of women have had breast augmentation surgery. That’s approximately 5 million women, as of 2010. Typically, a woman chooses to have the surgery done once she is finished having children, and she is usually around 34 years old. Breast augmentation is second only to liposuction as the most popular cosmetic surgery in the U.S. It’s estimated that in 2015 alone, more than 300,000 breast augmentation procedures were done. One final thing you should know: as of 2010, around 29 percent of women having the procedure done did so for reconstructive purposes, such as after cancer surgery.
Do you have breast implants? Please read on, because we have information that might save your life concerning a rare cancer known as ALCL.
ALCL and the FDA’s Response
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported in March, 2017, that breast implants can bring about a rare cancer called anaplastic large cell lymphoma, or ALCL. The agency believes that ALCL, a type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, has killed nine women; there have been over 350 reports linking the cancer to both saline and silicone implants.
It’s been thought for a while—since 2011, when the FDA first began looking at cases—that breast implants might cause ALCL. However, as we’ve noted, the cancer is rare, so it took a long time before the FDA was convinced that implants might be causing it. According to the agency, “At that time, the FDA knew of so few cases of this disease that it was not possible to determine what factors increased the risk.”
If you have breast implants, you should be more concerned if you know that the implants have a textured surface rather than a smooth one. Almost every instance of ALCL has involved textured implants. Most U.S. implants, however, are smooth.
Help! I Have Breast Implants.
If you are not experiencing any breast problems, the FDA says that you should stick to routine care and exams; it’s not necessary to have your implants removed. However, if you experience any difficulties with your breasts, including pain, swelling, lumps, or fluid buildup, the agency urges you not to ignore the signs. While it may not be cancer, you could have another medical problem that needs to be corrected. Be sure to see a medical professional who knows what to do when these signs occur. Believe it or not, some specialists do not know what to do when problems with implants develop. A plastic surgeon in Santa Monica, CA, Dr. Steven Teitelbaum, noted, “If the doctor doesn’t show a real fluency in this, see somebody else. You don’t want someone who acts like it’s nothing or seems confused.”
If lymphoma is suspected, the doctor normally orders a breast ultrasound (not a mammogram) to see if any fluid is present. If there is, the fluid is drained and tested for a marker of ALCL, called CD30. If CD30 is present in the fluid, an M.R.I and other tests are performed to establish the cancer’s stage.
Generally, the first step in treating ALCL is to remove all implants and to fully excise any scar tissue capsules that might exist. The latter is required to prevent the cancer from recurring or worsening. In around 85 percent of ALCL cases, the cancer will not have spread beyond the implant area; normally it stays in the area around the implant. In such circumstances, surgery alone is usually enough to cure it. Chemotherapy is needed only when the lymphoma has spread. On average, it takes 10 years for ALCL to develop.
If you would like further information, the FDA has a web site devoted to the latest information regarding breast implants.
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If you or someone you care about has been injured by a medical product or device, you should speak with an experienced South Carolina defective product attorney like the ones at the Louthian Law Firm as soon as possible. You may be able to file a lawsuit for compensation for past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and funeral expenses. Our attorneys can help you evaluate your case, protect your legal right to the courts, stand by your side throughout the legal process, and get you the best possible results. At the Louthian Law Firm, we will listen to your individual circumstances and analyze the merits of your case absolutely free of charge. Call us at 1-803-454-1200, or use our convenient and confidential online contact form to get started.