All breast implants in France will now come with a health warning after a small number of women with breast implants were found to have developed anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL). However, given the long history of safe breast implant use and the rigorous testing and regulations that go into implant production, could France be overreacting to these statistically rare cases?
What Is ALCL?
ALCL is a rare blood disease that causes a certain type of white blood cell to grow and multiply uncontrollably, which can lead to cancer. Initial symptoms commonly include weight loss, painless swelling of the lymph nodes and tiredness. The majority of ALCL cases occur in children or young adults, as well as elderly patients.
It’s important to understand that the cases of ALCL that have been diagnosed in women with breast implants have not been found to have a causal relationship with implants. In fact, as of 2011, there were only 34 cases of ALCL identified out of the 10 million worldwide patients with breast implants.
Patient Safety First
Despite the lack of scientific evidence to support a connection between ALCL and breast implants, both the FDA and ASPS have taken claims by France’s National Cancer Institute very seriously. In 2011, the ASPS, the FDA, and the Plastic Surgery Foundation partnered to create a comprehensive breast implant registry and research foundation to study any link between ALCL and breast implants. The organizations have also collaborated to form the National Breast Implant Registry, documenting all cases of breast implants and their outcomes.
Women with breast implants or who are considering breast implants are encouraged to communicate openly with a knowledgeable and experienced breast surgeon about their goals and concerns to ensure that they remain as informed as possible.