by Dr. C.H. Weaver M.D. 2/2019
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is concerned that women with breast implants have an increased risk of developing anaplastic large cell lymphoma. More cases of this rare T-cell lymphoma associated with breast implants have been recently reported, and the FDA has issued an alert to health care providers.
Over time, a fibrous scar called a capsule develops around an implant which separates it from the rest of the breast. In patients with breast implants the lymphoma is generally found adjacent to the implant itself and contained within the fibrous capsule.
Symptoms of the anaplastic lymphoma typically include swelling and redness around the breast implants. The average time between implantation and the development of the lymphoma is 9.2 years.
About 10 million to 11 million women in the world have breast implants, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the Plastic Surgeon Foundation so the condition is quite rare but needs to be looked for and detected early.
According to the FDA most of the lymphomas occurred in people who had textured surfaces on their implants, rather than smooth surfaces. The illness is slow-growing and treatable when it's detected early. Routine breast screening however is probably the best way to monitor for the changes with mammograms or MRIs.
People who are considering getting implants should do their research and discuss with their surgeons the risks and benefits of textured- and smooth-surfaced implants, the FDA has warned in the past.