FDA eyes link between breast implants and cancer

U.S. & World

(NBC News) Women who say they’ve suffered because of breast implants stood together at a Food and Drug Administration meeting Monday.

Some have complained of “Breast Implant Illness,” vague symptoms like brain fog, rash, fatigue and joint paint. 

The main focus at the FDA hearing is what doctors say is a definitive link between textured breast implants and a rare form of lymphoma called “Breast Implant Associated ALCL.”

It’s a cancer of the immune system that grows in the scar tissue surrounding the implant. 

Nearly 500 women in the United States have been diagnosed, either after a reconstruction after mastectomy or cosmetic surgery.

Worldwide, 17 patients have died with Breast Implant Associated ALCL. 

Cases of Breast Implant Associated ALCL have involved textured implants, not smooth ones.

About 12-percent of women with breast implants in the U.S. have textured implants. 

Removing the scar tissue and the implant generally cures the cancer. 

Plastic surgeons say overall implants are safe, but women should be counseled about all potential risks. 

“Patients in the end need to be very comfortable with what they put into their own bodies,” says Dr. Vu Nguyen.

Breast implant manufacturers speaking at the meeting say safety is their highest priority.

Cases of breast implant associated ALCL generally occur eight to 10 years after women first get their implants. 

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