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FDA receives reports of more cancers associated with breast implants

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The Food and Drug Administration has just released what it calls a "safety communication" to inform the public about recent reports it has received linking different types of cancers that, until now, hadn't been associated with breast implants.

Last Thursday, the FDA announced that it had received 10 reported cases of squamous cell carcinoma and 12 reported cases of "various lymphomas" in the scar tissue, also known as the "capsule," of a breast implant. These types of cancer are different from the "breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL)" incidence that the FDA began reporting a decade ago.

These new forms of implant-affiliated cancers have been reported in patients who have smooth implants and those who have textured implants, those who have silicone-based implants and those who have saline implants. Symptoms experienced by those who have developed these cancers include: swelling, pain, lumps, and skin changes.

Though the FDA emphasized in the announcement that "the risk of SCC and other lymphomas occurring in the tissue around breast implants is rare," determining precisely how rare is difficult. The Daily Wire reports that approximately 400,000 patients undergo surgery for breast implants in an average year, and about 75% of these patients do so for cosmetic, rather than reconstructive, purposes. However, in some cases, the new forms of cancers did not manifest for several years after the devices were implanted, the FDA stated, so the rate of incidence of SCC and lymphoma with breast implants remains unclear.

Not to mention that the reports themselves are just one data point researchers use to understand and gauge the risks associated with medical devices such as implants. Breast cancer survivors who have their breasts reconstructed after treatment are always at risk of developing cancer again. Nicotine use can also be a contributing factor.

Because so much remains unknown, the FDA warns patients not to take any drastic measures as a result of these new findings. Patients with implants who have no indicators or symptoms of cancer do not need to contact their doctors, nor should they elect to have their implants removed as a precaution, the FDA said. They should, however, bear in mind that no medical device lasts forever and that all breast implants must either be occasionally replaced or eventually removed.

Patients with implants who do experience symptoms are encouraged to contact their health care professionals quickly and to report any cancer diagnoses to MedWatch, the FDA Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting program.

Prospective implant recipients are likewise encouraged to learn as much as they can prior to surgery so that they can make informed decisions about their own health care.

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