Cancers reported in scar tissue that forms around breast implants, FDA warns in new safety alert

Denise Dador Image
Friday, September 9, 2022
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The Food and Drug Administration is alerting the public about certain cancers - including squamous cell carcinoma and various lymphomas - that have been reported in the scar tissue that forms around breast implants.

If you have breast implants and are experiencing health problems, the Food and Drug Administration is asking you to file an official report with them.

It's part of the agency's new safety alert warning the public about breast implants and their potential link to certain forms of cancer. One patient who recently had her's removed discussed her complications.

The night before this patient, who didn't want us to use her real name, had her breast implants taken out, she was in excruciating pain.

"I was so sick at this point that I could barely walk down the stairs without holding the handrail like a 90-year-old grandmother," she said.

In 2006, this patient was one of the first to receive Allergan's BIOCELL textured silicone implants. Shortly after, she started suffering a constellation of seemingly unrelated symptoms.

"The joint pain, the fatigue, the inflammation and the exhaustion," she said..

"The most recent hot topic is breast implant illness which I see everyday in my practice," said Board Certified Plastic Surgeon Dr. Kevin Brenner.

He said this patient's specific implants were also associated with Breast Implant Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma. In 2019, Allergan took the devices off the market

But now, the FDA issued a new safety alert regarding all breast implants and their potential connection to documented cases of squamous cell carcinoma and various lymphomas found in scar tissue. The agency says the risk is rare.

Regulators are not asking women to remove their implants, but are urging them to monitor their health and report any problems to their healthcare provider and the FDA. Brenner offers his own advice to implant patients experiencing troubling symptoms.

"The longer you have them, the more risk you develop. Even though the risk is small, there's still a risk of developing a lymphoma. And why do you want to wait for that? It's almost like smoking cigarettes," Brenner said.

"I do feel an intense responsibility to advocate for these women," said the patient.

As soon as Brenner removed her implants, she felt the symptoms disappear.

My breathing was better. I no longer needed an inhaler within 24 hours of getting out of surgery. My eczema was gone. It was like being handed my life back.," she said.

The FDA says it will continue to evaluate the occurrence of cancers surrounding breast implants. The agency said they issued today's alert so that patients considering implants will understand the risks.