Breast implants linked to a rare form of blood cancer

Thursday, January 27, 2011

WASHINGTON - Women with saline and silicone gel-filled breast implants may be at greater risk of developing a rare form of blood cancer known as anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL), according to the US Food and Drug Administration.

A review of nearly 60 reports showed that women with this type of breast implant may have a very small but significant risk of ALCL around the shell of the implant, reports ABC News.

The Lymphoma Research Foundation said that ALCL is a rare type of aggressive blood cancer comprising only about three percent of all blood cancers in adults.

Previous studies have suggested that ALCL was more common in women with implants.

For decades, many experts, including Dr. Michael Harbut, director of the environmental cancer program and the Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit, Mich., had warned of potential harmful chemicals in breast implants.

Harbut petitioned the FDA 11 years ago, warning about the potential link between cancer and toxins found in the gel and shell of breast implants.

Since the risk of ALCL is relatively small, experts said women who already have implants should not worry about the cancer.

Meanwhile, the FDA is teaming with the American Society of Plastic Surgeons to create a registry to better understand the development of ALCL in women with breast implants and examine reported cases.

It has also asked healthcare professionals to report any confirmed cases of ALCL in patients with breast implants.

The agency also plans to urge breast implant manufacturers to highlight the potential risk of implants in their product labelling.

However, many experts said while registry and labelling are small steps forward, the FDA should independently review all potential harms associated with breast implants. (ANI)

Filed under: Cancer, FDA

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