Textured breast implants might be causing breast cancer

Textured breast implants might be more dangerous than smooth ones, a new report has found.

Previous research has linked breast implants to cancer, but the new study from Penn State College of Medicine confirmed that ‘textured’ implants – designed to stay in place more firmly – cause a rare, aggressive form of cancer that is hard to treat. 

The cancer is called breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL), and the report’s researchers are warning that cases of it are on the rise. 

Textured implants became popular in the 1990s and patients choose them because their surfaces adhere to the tissue surrounding them allowing them to stay in place in the breast pocket.

A new report from Penn State College of Medicine has found a link between textured breast implants and a rare form of breast cancer (file photo)

The first case of BIA-ALCL was reported in 1997, around the time textured implants became more appealing to plastic surgery candidates.

Popular textured implant options include Mentor Memory Shape and Allergan Natrelle 410, and both were approved in 2013.

For the new study, researchers reviewed 115 articles that included research on the disease. The articles analyzed the cases of 95 BIA-ALCL patients who were observed so that doctors could learn more about their illness. 

Penn State researchers studied how BIA-ALCL develops, patients’ risk factors, how it is diagnosed and available treatments.

They found that BIA-ALCL affects about one of every 30,000 women with breast implants and that almost all of these cases are associated with textured implants. Out of the 95 patients whose cases were reviewed, five died.

This diagram shows where the lymphoma cells form in BIA-ALCL patients

This diagram shows where the lymphoma cells form in BIA-ALCL patients


Breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma is a form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Symptoms of BIA-ALCL include pain and swelling in the breast area, and the FDA has warned that these symptoms can appear years after a breast implant operation.

The FDA has also said that the cancer can cause lumps and asymmetrical breasts.

The lymphoma cells are not found in breast tissue but around implants instead.

According to the FDA women who have gotten breast implants should do three things:

  • Discuss the risks of different types of implants before surgery
  • Receive routine follow-up care following surgery
  • Monitor your implants and contact your doctor immediately if you notice swelling, pain or other changes in the breast implant area

Because the researchers did not find any cases of BIA-ALCL reported before textured implants were used, they think that a causal relationship between the two exists. But the report stressed more research needs to be done to confirm this. 

The researchers also said the number of BIA-ALCL cases is probably higher realistically because the medical community does not yet fully understand the disease.

‘We’re seeing that this cancer is likely very underreported, and as more information on this type of cancer comes to light, the number of cases is likely to increase in the coming years,’ said study researcher Professor Dino Ravnic.

Professor Ravnic said that it is hard to prove a definite association between textured implants, specifically, and BIA-ALCL patients because doctors have not examined these patients thoroughly enough.

‘In many of these cases the implant was removed without testing the surrounding fluid and tissue for lymphoma cells, so it’s difficult to definitively correlate the two,’ he said.

But a report from the FDA has said that textured implants are more often culprits for the disease, stating: ‘At this point, the data suggest that BIA-ALCL occurs more frequently following textured than smooth breast implants, though more work needs to be done to understand the risk factors for the disease.’

The administration added that the type of filling in implants – saline or silicone – does not affect a patient’s chances of developing BIA-ALCL, according to current research.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk