Breast implants, new risks as surgeries increase

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports that there were about 300,000 cosmetic breast augmentation surgeries in 2017, up 41% since 2000. Using a filler material such as saline or silicone, a plastic surgeon can change the size, shape, and contour of a person’s breast. While most of these surgeries can be done safely, there is an increased risk of cancer linked to breast implants.


The FDA is currently investigated reports of breast implants causing cancer. Some patients have developed a blood cancer called anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL), a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that involves T cells. In cases of breast implant associated ALCL, the cancer begins in the fluid inside the scar tissue around the implant and not the patient’s breast tissue. It can metastasize and spread to the lymph nodes surrounding the breast tissue. There have been 400 reports of patients that developed ALCL after receiving breast implants. Some women who chose to remove their implants after being diagnosed with lymphoma saw dozens of small tumors around the implants.


While researchers are still uncertain why exactly implants increase the risk of cancer, it is feasible that the implant texturing releases particles than then cause abrasions. This could then cause the immune system to respond, and subsequently fail, resulting in the tumors. Another hypothesis that research groups are testing is that a bacterial infection causes irritation leading to lymphoma. Unfortunately, even with the risk of ALCL, breast implant manufacturers have no plans to stop selling textured implants.


While ALCL is rare, it is still a risk that must be fully discussed by patients and their doctors. Please schedule an appointment with us for more information and options.



El Camino Women’s Medical Group offers the latest Minimally Invasive Solutions for gynecologic problems.   Drs. Amy TengErika Balassiano, and Pooja Gupta, all members of AAGL (American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopy) are highly trained and experienced in the field of Minimally Invasive Gynecgologic Surgery.   Dr. Erika Balassiano is also completed a Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery Fellowship, under the supervision of world-renowned Dr. Camran Nezhat.


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