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Cancer Related to Breast Implants

Cancer Related to Breast Implants

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given approval to two different types of breast implants for sale in the United States. The breast implants both utilize an exterior silicon shell, though one is filled with a gel and the other with a saline solution. The exterior of some implants is textured, while the others are smooth on the outside. Both products have been used for reconstructive and cosmetic surgery.

The FDA has conducted public hearings to gather information on the health risks associated with both types of implants. Among the specific health concerns is a potential link to a rare type of cancer known as anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL).

ALCL is a rare cancer that can manifest anywhere in the body, but more characteristically in the lymph nodes and on the skin. Most of the research conducted thus far supports a conclusion that the ALCL does not develop in the breast itself, but in the scar tissue surrounding the implant incision. Researchers also believe that risk of cancer is greater with the textured implants and may be as high as one in every 4,000 patients. There's no conclusive evidence to date indicating whether there's a greater risk with the saline-filled or the gel-filled implants.

Studies show that, when caught early, ALCL is treatable and curable. The common method of care is the surgical removal of both implants and any existing cancer.

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