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Breast implants could put women at increased risk of rare cancer

Updated: January 27, 2011 12:21AM

Women with breast implants may be at increased risk for a rare but serious form of lymphoma, the Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday.

The FDA says it has identified 34 cases of what’s known as anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) in women with silicone and saline breast implants after reviewing research published between 1997 and 2010.

An aggressive type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, ALCL appears in the scar tissue that forms around breast implants.

But considering that an estimated 5 million to 10 million women worldwide have implants, known cases of the condition are “too few to say conclusively that breast implants cause the disease,” the FDA says.

To better understand who may be at risk, the FDA is partnering with the American Society of Plastic Surgeons to create a registry of ALCL cases in women with implants.

Women who notice pain, swelling or other changes in the way the area around their implant looks or feels should see a doctor for evaluation, FDA scientist Dr. Binita Ashar said. Women without symptoms should continue monitoring their implants and obtaining regular breast screening.

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