Fact Check: Can Breast Implants Cause Cancer? | Washingtonian Plastic Surgery
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Women considering breast augmentation are often concerned about how their implants will look and feel post-surgery.

They also hope that selecting a qualified board-certified plastic surgeon and following pre- and post-care instruction will limit their risk of complications.

Some even hesitate about their decision to get breast implants for fear that they may cause cancer. However, this is a common misconception, and in reality, women with breast implants have a slightly increased, but extremely low, risk of anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (ALCL), a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Here’s what patients should know about ALCL, it’s likelihood, symptoms, detection, and treatment.

How common is anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (ALCL) in women with breast implants?

Researchers reveal that ALCL occurs in one in 50,000 women that have breast implants and is more likely in cases involving a textured implant.

More specifically, patients with smooth round implants only accounted for four-to-seven of instances of implant-associated ALCL.

It’s believed that the rough surface of textured implants may trigger an immune response that makes ALCL more prevalent in this subset of individuals.

What are the symptoms of implant-associated ALCL?

Cases of implant-associated ALCL are commonly noted a year or more after breast surgery and present as achronic swelling and fluid build-up around the implant. In order to diagnose the disease, the fluid is drained and tested for ALCL marker CD30.

How is implant-associated ALCL treated?

Fortunately, implant-associated ALCL is often curable if detected early, and removal of the implant and its surrounding capsule of scar tissue can eliminate the lymphoma.

However, if the cancer has spread, patients will require treatment with chemotherapy and radiation.

Should I be concerned about implant-associated ALCL?

Patients should thoroughly discuss the benefits and risks of breast implants with their surgeon prior to treatment. It’s also important to maintain close contact with him or her throughout recovery and attend follow-up appointments as directed.

Additionally, if women notice any changes in the feeling or appearance of their implants, they should notify their surgeon right away.

While the risk of implant-associated ALCL is extremely low, patients should be aware of this potential complication and may wish to elect a smooth round style to further reduce its likelihood.

To learn more about the benefits and risks of breast implants, please call our office today to schedule a consultation.