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Is Breast Augmentation Causing Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma, a Blood Cancer?

October  27,  2014 in

Breast augmentation is one of the most frequently performed surgeries in the United States, and is the most common cosmetic surgical procedure. Nearly 300,000 women had breast augmentation surgery in the U.S. last year alone.

Today it is considered a very safe procedure, whether the implants used are filled with saline or silicone. But a new study coming out of the United Kingdom is casting a shadow on the minimal risks of breast augmentation. It has revealed that in extremely rare cases, women are developing a blood cancer called anaplastic large cell lymphoma, and it appears that the blood cancer is a direct result of the implant itself.

Anaplastic large cell lymphoma is a form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma thatappears in only 3% of cases. It usually appears in the lymph nodes or skin, but in the cases studied by Dr. Suzanne Turner of the University of Cambridge, it is appearing in the breast tissue itself, with the tumors appearing in the tissue surrounding the implant. The incidence is rare, withonly 71 cases worldwide among millions who undergo the surgery, but it is still of concern and needs to be considered as part of the risk assessment prior to having elective surgery.

According to Dr. Turner, most of the patients who have been diagnosed with breast implant-related ALCL have a specific abnormal surface protein that is associated with positive responses to treatment, and in most cases patients have been cured through removal of the implant and surrounding tissue, with no further therapies required. But an unfortunate few have gone on to require more aggressive treatment and have experienced poor survival.

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