Association Between Allergan Textured Breast Implants and Certain Forms of Cancer Compel Women to Remove Implants
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration proclaimed that the medical device manufacturer Allergan must recall textured breast implants over concerns that the implants could cause a rare form of cancer. Health.com reported that about 600 women currently suffer from “Breast Implant-Associated, Anaplastic large cell lymphoma,” also known by the acronym BIA-ALCL. BIA-ALCL is not breast cancer. Rather, oncologists classify the disease as non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, which is cancer that affects the immune system. Thirty-three women have died from BIA-ALCL since 2010.
Women who had textured breast implants, whether for cosmetic reasons or implanted after breast cancer surgery as part of breast reconstruction, now face a dilemma. Women with textured implants can elect to keep the textured implants made by Allergan and other medical device manufacturers or undergo reconstructive surgery to have them removed to prevent BIA-ALCL. Many women are choosing to undergo removal surgery, despite the risk attendant with any operation, to avoid combatting BIA-ALCL. However, the chances of developing BIA-ALCL are small according to one plastic and reconstructive surgeon. The surgeon said that about 75,000 women had textured implants and just under 600 have developed the disease. Accordingly, the surgeon described BIA-ALCL as a rare disease.
The FDA asked Allergan to recall its textured implants, and the company complied by removing its products from the marketplace. Curiously, neither the FDA nor Allergan asked women with textured implants to have them removed. Instead, the FDA said that women who are not experiencing adverse symptoms with textured implants do not have to have them removed.
Symptoms of BIA-ALCL, according to Health.com, appear as soreness or pain in the breast area in addition to swelling that is persistent. The persistent swelling and pain might be linked to BIA-ALCL if the discomfort continues after the surgical scars have healed. However, if the doctors link the discomfort to BIA-ALCL, surgeons treat the disease by removing the implant and resecting the diseased tissue surrounding the implant. Occasionally, the patient might need radiation or chemotherapy.
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