Breast implants may cause rare cancer
January 26th, 2011
04:15 PM ET

Breast implants may cause rare cancer

The Food and Drug Administration says it has found a possible link between breast implants and a very rare type of cancer. After reviewing data published between 1997 and 2010, the agency determined people with both saline and silicone gel-filled implants have a small but significant risk of anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) a form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

According the American Cancer Society, ALCL is a fast-growing lymphoma that usually affects the lymph nodes, but can also appear on skin. Between 1  and 2% of lymphomas are ALCLs. It's more common in young people and can be cured with aggressive chemotherapy, radiation or surgery.

The FDA is asking all breast implant manufacturers to update their product labeling to include the possible risk, and asking doctors to pay particular attention to patients exhibiting fluid around their implant, and to report any confirmed cases of ALCL to Medwatch, their safety and adverse event reporting program.

"We need more data and are asking that health care professionals tell us about any confirmed cases they identify," said Dr. William Maisel, chief scientist and deputy director for science at the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health. "We are working with the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and other experts in the field to establish a breast implant patient registry, which should help us better understand the development of ALCL in women with breast implants."

The agency says women should check their implants and see a doctor if they notice changes. "Women with breast implants who are not showing any symptoms or problems require only routine followup," Maisel said.  If you're considering implants discuss the risks with your doctor.

About 1 in 500,000 women get a diagnosis of ALCL annually in the United States. It's even more rare in breast tissue, only about 3 in every 100 million women without breast implants get ALCL in the breast. The agency says 5 to 10 million women have breast implants worldwide. Of those, they have confirmed 60 cases of ALCL. Most of the women got their diagnosis when they sought treatment for symptoms including pain, swelling, lumps or asymmetry after they had healed. These symptoms were attributed to fluid buildup, hardening of the area around the implant or a mass around the implant.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons says breast implants are safe and effective. "ASPS shares the FDA's commitment to patient safety, but we also want to make certain this information does not raise false alarms with our patients," said Dr. Phillip Haeck, ASPS president. "We've been down this path before. For nearly 20 years American women were denied access to their choice of breast implants because of false claims and unfounded science. We are determined this shouldn't happen again."

The FDA plans to update its review of silicone gel-filled implants, which is due this spring.

soundoff (165 Responses)
  1. Got 'em

    I have implants, and a terrific happy life. No sleaze here. And no one knows they're not real, so shhhh...okay? Thanks.

    January 27, 2011 at 01:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mich

      Good for you!!! My wife does as well!!! We had MANY MANY conversations before committing, then researched for months before deciding on a surgeon! We are now in our late 40's.... I have to imagine you are a very happy woman!!! To hell with the "naysayers".....

      January 27, 2011 at 01:57 | Report abuse |
  2. mfred

    Play now, pay later.....

    January 27, 2011 at 02:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Donna

    I do not have breast cancer or small breasts,so I may just be happy with what I have. I have always been confused with why women would want to get implants. I do respect that it is a personal choice. What I dont fully understand is why women who have survived breast cancer would implant something that could potentially cause another type of cancer. I pray that I never have to make that choice,but I think I would try to avoid and prevent any potental danger. But, like I said before it is a personal choice that deserves respect, even if it is not understood by everyone.

    January 27, 2011 at 02:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • LEB

      I would say that women who have had partial or total mastectomies as the result of breast cancer would want implants so that they feel like normal women again. I personally have no interest in elective implants, but if my breast were damaged as a result of illness or injury, you can bet I'd get implants if that was the best solution for making me look normal again.

      January 27, 2011 at 02:41 | Report abuse |
    • Donna

      Whatever works for you. I'm just saying, its like if you get a liver transplant, you really shouldnt drink alcohol...If your breasts are removed because of cancer,u probably shouldnt implant a potentionally cancer causing foreign body back into your new "healthy" body.

      January 29, 2011 at 02:34 | Report abuse |
    • Sarah

      Because Breast implants Don't cause BREAST cancer, Donna. Don't you think that if they did, that the doctors would encourage their patients NOT to get them? My aunt had a double mastectomy because of Breast cancer. She got implants at the same time, and they have NOT caused her any problems. You really should not speak about things which you do not understand.

      March 13, 2012 at 12:58 | Report abuse |
  4. Lexxvs

    So, alcoholism and drug abuse are pandemic in the U.S.A. and they make an article about a “possible link” (quote) to a rare type of cancer that affects 0,0006 % of women with breast implants. 60 out of almost 10,000,000 around the entire world.
    Yes, I know, women have the right to know. But if those statistics scares you, why would you take the risk of venture out of your home in first place?
    I guess some priorities are extremely blurred.

    January 27, 2011 at 03:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Donna

      I think your thoughts are the ones that are blurred. Who's scared? I mean, just say no!

      January 29, 2011 at 02:40 | Report abuse |
  5. Aelisala

    I like how it says, "may cause cancer" and not, "it does cause cancer". Two very separate things! I have a little trouble reading research articles that say the publishing groups need more proof to secure data that proves this idea right. Why bother publishing anything if you don't know the answer to the question you asked!?!

    January 27, 2011 at 04:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. TxNurse

    Yet another "let's panic the masses" article by CNN – irresponsible, inflammatory coverage of a single study. Note that this study cites the finding of only 60 CASES (not deaths). This particular form of cancer is treatable and survivable. Did they bother to look at other possible connections? Twinkies, perhaps? Any other studies to back it up? Nope. But hey, let's scare everyone anyway.

    January 27, 2011 at 04:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. carmen

    and all naturally big breasted women would like so much to have less........................................ of course to have implants after cancer is not the subject, this is psycho-medical care. But girls, who want big boobs, you don't imagine what life is with.. heavy silouhette, difficult to sleep on your front face when periods... difficult to run, to jump... men who look at your boobs when you are talking to them .... keep your breast as it is, and have a look on french lingerie :))))

    January 27, 2011 at 05:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. carmen

    lola, do you know the price of a tailor, dear ?

    January 27, 2011 at 05:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Peace

      I can't believe she suggested you get all of your clothes tailored. That is ridiculous. Maybe you could get some good free advice from the plus-sized stores, but you shouldn't have to pay for a tailor in order to find clothes that fit. I wish you luck.

      January 27, 2011 at 08:26 | Report abuse |
    • Fashnlvr

      Having one's clothing altered by a tailor is not that expensive. I have had things altered for me plenty of times. I think the most I ever spent was $20 to have a floor length satin dress taken up – as I am short and it was way too long. If one is large breasted but small waisted, and desires to wear buttondown shirts with no gap – buy the shirt so it fits the breast area and then take it in at the waist. Learning to do minimal sewing to alter clothing is fairly easy too and a basic sewing machine is inexpensive as well. I am a 34D and you are right – Victoria Secret often has the B or the C but rarely the D in a 34. I have also been told to go up in number but down in cup size – but that doesn't really seem to work and makes no sense to me.

      January 27, 2011 at 10:42 | Report abuse |
  9. Tigresse

    This bigger is better mentality is due mostly to low self esteem in women and also those men who are obsessed with having larger penises – also a self esteem issue. I'm all for reconstructive and implant surgery for women who have survived breast cancer and have had a mastectomy. I get that. But wanting a C or D or DD cup when you're naturally an A or B is just well...silly! In Europe large breasts aren't a big deal or requirement for women or insecure women wanting to please their men, like it is in America. It doesn't surprise me that there are some risks of cancer; when you introduce anything foreign into your body that doesn't belong there – even organ transplants are often failures because of organ rejection – there have to be some increased risks. Be happy with what you've got and that you dont' have an actual more serious problem like a degenerative or life-threatening disease. Peace.

    January 27, 2011 at 06:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • sarteest

      You don't know your stats. Breast augmentations are done with great zeal in Europe and South America. It is even emerging as a popular operation in China. And for your information, the study that has suggested that breast implants might be associated with developing breast lymphoma, the is, the study the FDA used as it's index study – risk being 6/10,000,000 – was performed in The Netherlands on women who had cosmetic breast augmentation.

      January 27, 2011 at 10:05 | Report abuse |
  10. naden23

    All you ppl are out of your minds boobies are great whether there real fake or cancerous. i reviewed most of your comments and it is some of the most rediculous and inconciderate bs i have ever heard in my entire life. what is wrong with you simple minded fools. naden23. chuck the dueses @$&# you moron police!!! log off you sleezy beezy

    January 27, 2011 at 07:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Art

    CNN you should be ashame of yourselves... Another classic example of media giving you their brand of news... In other words, half truths! What they should have said is "the real reason for the cancer concern is because of leeching off of cancer causing chemicals that are inherent in all petroleum based plastics, which are precisely what these implants are made of!" If you noticed in the article, they mention that the cancer is associated with the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system's job is the filter all these harmful chemicals out of the body.

    I can't believe that they would even try and get away with this BS! This is what happens when your media outlets put the interest of their corporate sponsors ahead of the public safety! The fact that the FDA is going along with it is even more telling... Botton line is "A good consumer is an informed consumer..." do your homework ladies, don't let them stick just anything inside your body! And, if it's made in china, don't even consider it!

    January 27, 2011 at 07:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Kerlin

    "Safe and effective"? Makes implants sound like drugs.

    January 27, 2011 at 10:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Jimmy Cornhole


    January 27, 2011 at 10:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Mindy Melons

    All I can say is since I have gotten my Double E implants my life has completely changed. Men and women seem to be so turned on by the site of my melons they cant help themselves. I love having them especially because they please my man.

    January 27, 2011 at 10:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Candace

      You ARE joking, right?

      June 22, 2011 at 22:11 | Report abuse |
  15. Sarah in Texas

    Let's work on promoting a society where beauty is seen in our natural features and in our characters and personalities. To have an industry that exists solely to implant water balloons into womens' bodies is just gross. And yes, reconstructive procedures after cancer or such is different. Huge boobs are not attractive anyway. They just make you look inflated, fat and like a comic book drawing. And at a time when 66% of the U.S. population is overweight or obese, let's think about being active and getting exercise rather than putting more unnecessary mass into ourselves.

    January 27, 2011 at 10:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jimmy Cornhole

      You promote what you like and I will promote what I like. I dont need no stinking lecture from you.

      PS...You must be ugly.

      January 27, 2011 at 10:48 | Report abuse |
  16. OctoMom - Sadeya

    I have implants and had a tummy tuck.

    January 27, 2011 at 10:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • VegasRage

      Hope it works for you, personally when I see a someone who has augmented themselves I think they must not like themselves much.

      January 27, 2011 at 11:02 | Report abuse |
  17. GSP78

    There are risks with any type of surgery. This type of cancer seems to be very rare, and is still not very studied. People are free to their opinions about plastic surgery. However, they don't have the right to judge someone so negatively for having breast implants. Flat-chested women can also look sleazy with of their choice of clothing, make up and the way they carry themselves. I my breasts augmented to bring back volume I had lost over the years. They are proportioned to my body, and I'm very happy with them. I got saline implants, and they look and feel very natural. My surgeon recommened them over silicone for safety reasons. Silicone may feel a little softer, but it can cause health problems if the implant leaks. It also makes it difficutl to see the breast tissue during mamograms. Silicone is also a lot more expensive than saline. If implants make you look and feel better, I don't see anything wrong with it.

    January 27, 2011 at 11:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Pagan

    To each there own. It is not my place to judge. I personally don't have them nor would I get them but I DO NOT feel those who do are "sleezy." What an ass it took to make that comment! Until you've walked a mile in someone's shoes, STFU! Oh and on the "visectomy" get over it. Someone slipped up while typing – nothing more, nothing less and you all beat it into the ground. Whatever, do you feel superior now? Good, go forth into the world and make someone else miserable!

    January 27, 2011 at 11:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. For the right reasons

    Not everyone just wants to go bigger. I received an implant in one breast at the age of 26. I was a D cup on one side and completely flat on the other. I didn't do it for anyone else – it was for me. I wanted to look normal in clothing and feel comfortable in a bathing suit – comfortable in my own skin really. It took me a long time to make the decision, and I was extremely happy with the results. Seeing me out on the street you would never know I had an implant. Not all cases of implants are for the wrong reasons. Some of you should try walking in other people's shoes before you judge.

    January 27, 2011 at 11:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Alex

    IMHO, large or small natural breasts on a woman are much more attractive to me than a pair of "bolt-ons".
    Joan Rivers is right with her statement, "Men are dumb, they like big breasts". If every woman is different, why can't men celebrate their differences rather than try to make them all conform to a "cookie-cutter", Barbie doll, emaciated image?

    January 27, 2011 at 12:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Vera

    Don't forget to read Dr. Ruddy's blog! It includes excellent information regarding the Pink Virus and breast cancer vaccine as well as other breast cancer prevention methods. http://breastcancerbydrruddy.com/

    January 27, 2011 at 16:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. renstar

    @ TAM
    Clearly you must inflate your own self worth by trying to make others feel bad. What exactly is it that you gain by calling a bunch of women you do not even know sleazy? Maybe your income is dependent on it? Otherwise, I can't see how you would come out ahead degrading others.

    January 27, 2011 at 16:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. pink ribbon

    Alex, thank you.

    January 27, 2011 at 21:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. soy sauce

    There is SO little info connected to this. The statistic on the cases that occured don't mention other factors, such as whether or not the woman who developed the cancer smoked. My guess is that smoking increases risks for all sorts of health problems....the stats here are so not clear enough.

    January 28, 2011 at 03:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Carrie Dahle

    Breast Health is something many of us as women take for granted. It was not until recently when I was asked to write an article on penis enlargement, that I truly started seeking answers to dangers in brest augmentation. There are risks as with any surgery, but ultimately you have to decide if those risks are worth it. For me, the answer is no.

    If you are interested in my findings regarding breast health you can find it here. http://daytodaywoman.com/2011/02/08/how-penis-enlargement-led-me-to-the-health-of-my-breasts/


    February 15, 2011 at 16:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. adams

    "Get beauty care products, like perfumes, makeup, and lotions, totally free at http://www.freebeautycareproducts.com

    August 14, 2011 at 02:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. kristin saez

    My mom had a very rare form of cancer, due to her implants, Only 45 Women are know to have had this cancer, And because its so rare, yet aggressive, Kemo usually can't fight it. My mother was 53 years old, a loving mother of 7 and a wonderful wife who lost the battle , in just a matter of months finding out. When she had my brother, she had the implants replaced to the much safer implants, but the doctors didn't clean all the silicone out and silicone is what caused this very rare cancer.

    August 17, 2012 at 11:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. jori

    Is there any health problem after breast surgery?

    August 25, 2012 at 08:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Dr. Michael Fiorillo

    Breast health is very important because it is cause of cancer all the information is important for girls..
    Dr. Michael A. Fiorillo

    June 19, 2015 at 08:33 | Report abuse | Reply
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