Did you have breast augmentation surgery, and now you’re worried about the potential health risks associated with breast implants? You may have heard stories about women with breast implants getting cancer. Can breast implants develop into breast cancer? While a breast implant may not directly cause cancer, another type of cancer has been linked to some breast implants.
If you suffered harm or became ill after a breast implant surgery, you could have a legal claim for compensation against the implant manufacturer or the medical providers. These types of claims are very complex. We recommend contacting a skilled personal injury lawyer at Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC to discuss your options.
Can Breast Implants Develop into Cancer?
A breast implant will not turn cancerous, nor is it believed that having implants will raise your risk of developing breast cancer. However, another type of cancer seems to affect some women with certain implant types — breast implant-associated anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL).
While the chance of developing BIA-ALCL is relatively low, it’s essential to understand what BIA-ALCL is and the symptoms. Moreover, patients need to worry about infection and other adverse side effects after breast augmentation surgery.
What is Anaplastic Large-Cell Lymphoma (ALCL)?
Anaplastic large-cell lymphoma is a non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. This type of cancer is not a type of breast cancer. Instead, it begins in the lymphatic system and spreads to your blood cells. The lymphatic system is what helps your body fight off diseases and infections. Experts are unclear exactly why some breast implants increase your risk of ALCL. The implants are not necessarily causing cancer, but it may be the body’s reaction to certain implants. Further research is needed to determine the relationship between this type of lymphoma and breast implants.
So far, researchers have found that most women with BIA-ALCL have textured implants, which ultimately led to a recall of certain implant brands.
FDA Recall Allergan Breast Implants
The FDA first linked these breast implants to BIA-ALCL in 2011. In early 2019, the FDA discovered over 450 cases of BIA-ALCL between 2010 and 2018. Unfortunately, nine of these patients died during that time. The reported cases increased to 573 between February 2019 and July 2019. Of the total number of reported cases, 481 patients had Allergan-branded implants.
In 2019, Allergan issued a recall after the possible link of Biocell textured implants to BIA-ALCL. Most recalled breast implants were sold and marketed under the Natrelle brand. The FDA recommends any woman who develops BIA-ALCL have their implants removed.
Products included in the 2019 recall are:
- Natrelle Saline breast implant;
- Natrelle and McGhan 410 breast implant;
- Natrelle and McGhan 410 Soft Touch breast implant;
- Natrelle 510 Dual Gel;
- Natrelle INSPIRA breast implants;
- Natrelle and McGhan Round Gel Implants;
- Natrelle Komuro breast implants;
- Natrelle Ritz Princess breast implant;
- Natrelle 150 Full Height and Short Height double lumen implants;
- Natrelle 133 tissue expanders with and without suture tabs; and
- Natrelle 133 Plus tissue expander.
Review the full FDA Allergan recall document to verify the specific styles for each product.
More recent studies show both the risk and incidence have increased. As of October 2021:
- One in every 2,969 women with breast implants and 1 in 355 patients with textured breast implants could be affected; and
- Globally, 949 cases were reported.
Researchers believe the most likely explanation of why some people develop BIA-ALCL with textured implants is that the greater surface area and increased bacterial adhesion could lead to higher rates of biofilm formation followed by lymphocyte activation.
Potential Symptoms of BIA-ALCL
Symptoms of ALCL can appear anywhere in your body, not just in your breasts. However, most people with BIA-ALCL get cancer around the scar tissue where the implants are. Women should routinely check their breasts for:
- Any new swelling;
- Changes in your breast’s shape or new lumps;
- Any regular or constant pain near your breast;
- New scar tissue or hardening of your breast; and
- Rash near your breast.
Other potential symptoms can include hair loss and fluid collecting around your breast. Exhaustion is also common, which can point to a weakened immune system. Symptoms can develop a few years after surgery or even 15 years later.
ALCL is curable cancer, especially when detected early. If you suspect BIA-ALCL, you should immediately contact a doctor. Your doctor will need to conduct a needle biopsy and other imaging tests, such as an ultrasound or mammogram. Treatment will usually require the removal of the implant and any cancerous tissue.
The FDA is not recommending that women with no abnormalities or symptoms have their implants removed. But they do recommend medical screening and watching for signs.
Other Side Effects of Breast Implants
Concerns over BIA-ALCL are not the only thing patients need to worry about with breast implants. The FDA warns of other complications that you should be watching for after having breast augmentation surgery. A few of these complications include:
- Scar tissue capsule forms around the breast implant which then starts squeezing the implant (capsular contracture);
- Implant ruptures or deflates;
- A patient needs additional surgeries;
- Development of chest wall deformity; and
- Skin breaks down, causing the implant to protrude from the skin.
These are only a few potential complications that could develop after breast implant surgery. Some conditions form because there’s a defect with the breast implant. In other cases, a medical professional’s negligence could cause the complication. If you develop a problem with your breast implant, speak with an attorney to determine what rights you have.
Contact a Kentucky Lawyer
If you have questions or concerns about a defective breast implant, speak with a Kentucky product liability lawyer soon as possible. Our firm has nearly 20 years of experience, and we understand what’s necessary to bring a defective product lawsuit. Our attorneys are committed to helping clients pursue justice. If you have developed BIA-ALCL or another complication, we stand ready to help. Contact the Gladstein Law Firm to schedule a consultation to learn how we can assist.