Study suggests breast implant and cancer link

24 Jan 2018

A new study published in JAMA Oncology suggests breast implants are associated with an increased risk of a rare form of cancer.

According to the study authors, the number of women with breast implants diagnosed with anaplastic large-cell lymphoma in the breast (breast-ALCL) has increased since 2008, and several reports have suggested a link between breast implants and risk of breast-ALCL. The new study claims to be the largest study to investigate the link between breast implants and large-cell lymphoma to date.

Through a population-based nationwide Dutch pathology registry, investigators identified all patients diagnosed with primary ALCL in the breast between 1990 and 2016. They retrieved clinical data and estimated the odds ratio of ALCL associated with breast implants in a case-control design, comparing implant prevalence between women with breast-ALCL and women with other types of breast lymphoma. Among 43 patients with breast-ALCL (median age, 59 years), 32 had ipsilateral breast implants, compared with one among 146 women with other primary breast lymphomas

The researchers estimated that, for women who get breast implants, the risk of developing ALCL in the breast is one in 35,000 at age 50, one in 12,000 at age 70, and one in 7,000 at age 75.

The paper describes that ALCL may be caused by the implant triggering an inflammatory response, or, alternatively, a bacterial species could be carried on the implant's surface. It is also stated that some women may be genetically predisposed to developing this kind of cancer after breast implantation.

Although the absolute risk remains small; the researchers state the results suggest a need for increased clinical awareness, comprehensive registration of implants and complications, and stimulation of alternative cosmetic/reconstructive procedures.

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