Australian Officials Report 56 Cases of Breast Implant Cancer Parker Waichman
Breast implant-associated anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (ALCL) is a rare type of cancer that develops around breast implants. Australian health officials reported 56 cases of ALCL, including three deaths since 2007. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reported eight deaths and more than 359 cases in the United States of ALCL in women with breast implants, reports the Daily Hornet.
Textured breasts implants, were more likely to cause cancer than smooth-surfaced breast implants, warns the FDA. Australian researchers published a study recently estimating that textured breast implants were 14 times more likely to cause ALCL than implants that are smooth-surfaced. In Australia, 90 percent of women with breast implants have textured-surface implants.
Textured Breast Implants are More Prone to Cause Cancer
Another study in Australia in 2014, revealed that textured breast implants were more likely to develop a bacterial coating called “biofilm.” This may cause low-level inflammation and immune system reactions that may cause lymphoma to develop in the fluid surrounding the implant.
Textured implants, which are treated with chemicals that etch the pouch surface, were introduced in the early 1990s. This was approximately five years before the first report of implant lymphoma. Texturing keeps the device firmly in place because scar tissue grows into the rough surface.
ALCL is a cancer that grows rapidly and it can be deadly if not treated. Symptoms include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, night sweats, weight loss, and swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpit, or groin, according to the Daily Hornet.
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ALCL Case Histories
A Southern California woman decided to have a breast augmentation in 2000 and opted to get silicone pouches filled with saline. She considered this a safe choice, but in 2011, she experienced a “stabbing pain” in her left breast, which had ballooned because of swelling around the implant. She was diagnosed with a new type of lymphoma – a cancer of the immune system = caused by implants. The malignancy is distinct from breast cancer and very rare.
The FDA had first warned of a link in 2011. The lymphoma has been connected to both saline and gel implants, for enlargement as well as for reconstruction after breast cancer. Most patients in these cases had textured rather than smooth implants.
Since implants were introduced in the 1960s, for the first time, medical authorities, including the World Health Organization (WHO), agree that the prosthetics give rise to a disease in susceptible women. Some experts believe the controversial theory that implants can trigger debilitating autoimmune illnesses such as lupus, scleroderma, and fibromyalgia, as many women have contended since the 1990s, according to the Inquirer.
Robert Miranda, a pathologist at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas said, “To me that has to be evaluated again.” The Cancer Center has treated approximately 40 women with implant-related lymphoma.
The first recognized implant-related case of lymphoma was in California in 1997. By 2010, after a few dozen more case reports, Miranda and some other researchers noted it was a new disease entity: a rare blood cell malignancy, with even rarer genetic hallmarks, that developed around breast implants
In late 2016, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, based in Fort Washington, issued diagnosis and treatment guidelines. Since the lymphoma is typically not aggressive, it can usually be treated by removing the implant, fluid, and the capsule of scar tissue that naturally forms around the prosthetic, the Inquirer reports.
However, the cancer can become life-threatening, as a woman from Ontario, Canada found out. She had no symptoms until the day after her first mammogram at age 50 in 2015. Her results were normal, but she felt lumps under an armpit. Her physician assumed the mammogram had ruptured her six-year-old textured gel implants. Ultimately, an MRI and biopsy revealed lymphoma that had spread to her bowel and lymph nodes.
Following two chemotherapy regimens that failed, doctors estimated the woman had six months left to live. A newer, targeted Hodgkin’s lymphoma drug saved her, but she still had to undergo a risky stem cell transplant as well as chest radiation.
Through her ordeal, she has become an activist. The woman founded a Facebook group for implant lymphoma patients, made a YouTube video, and recently met with the FDA about improving patient information, the Inquirer wrote.
“We want women to have objective, seamless information,” she said. “Implants are described as FDA approved. The truth is, implants were conditionally approved in 2006, and as of today, these conditions have not been met.”
Legal Information and Advice for Women
If you or someone you know has developed an illness as a result of a breast implant, you may have valuable legal rights. Parker Waichman LLP personal injury lawyers offer free, no-obligation case evaluations. We urge you to contact our attorneys at 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).