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Breast implants tied to increased risk of rare blood cancers

“It is important for women to be informed about the risks of anaplastic large-cell lymphoma when considering implants, so they have an informed choice,” said senior study author Dr Daphne de Jong of the VU Medical Center in Amsterdam.

Women who have breast implants may have a greater chance of developing a rare form of cancer known as anaplastic large cell lymphoma, a small Dutch study suggests.

Anaplastic large-cell lymphoma is an aggressive form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a cancer of the white blood cells, which usually affects older adults and is more common in men than in women. In recent years, the number of women diagnosed with an anaplastic large-cell lymphoma in the breast is increased, that is, the concern that the implants could cause malignancies, researchers note in JAMA Oncology.

For the current study, researchers data of patients with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma of the breast that have been added to a Dutch cancer registry between 1990 and 2016. In 43 patients with breast anaplastic large-cell lymphoma, 32 had breast implants, in comparison with only one woman among the 146 patients in the study who had other types of breast lymphomas.

This suggests that women with breast implants are 421 times more likely to develop breast anaplastic large-cell lymphoma. But the absolute risk is low: by the age of 75, only one in every 6,920 women with implants will develop this type of cancer.

“It is important for women to be informed about the risks of anaplastic large-cell lymphoma when considering implants, so they have an informed choice,” said senior study author Dr Daphne de Jong of the VU Medical Center in Amsterdam.

“Women who have implants should be aware of the signs and symptoms, so they can consult their doctors in time when they notice that the expansion of the chest, or a lump,” Young said by e-mail.

Although it is not exactly clear why implants could lead to an increased risk of a rare form of cancer, it is possible that this may be the result of an immune system response or an inflammatory reaction to bacteria on the surface of the implants, Young said.

In particular, the so-called macrotextured implants may pose a greater risk.

Among the 28 cases of anaplastic large-cell lymphoma in women with a known type of implant, 23 macrotextured implants, the study found.

Although this type of implant is good for 82 percent of the anaplastic large-cell lymphoma cases, these implants had only a 45 percent market share in the Netherlands during the study period, the researchers note.

By contrast, microtextured implants made up 54 percent of the Dutch market, but only accounts for 18% of the anaplastic large-cell lymphoma cases in the study.

The study was not a controlled experiment designed to prove that the question of whether and how dental implants in general or certain types of implants can cause breast lymphoma.

Another limitation of the study is that it included too few patients for the researchers to calculate how factors such as duration of implant use or type of implant, can change the odds of the development of breast lymphomas.

Although the risk of anaplastic large-cell lymphoma is a rare, women should still discuss with their doctor if they are considering dental implants and discuss what type of implant to get, said Dr. Colleen McCarthy, author of an accompanying editorial and a researcher at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

“There is high quality evidence that suggests that breast implants may be effective in improving a woman’s body image, psychosocial well-being and overall quality of life,” McCarthy said, per e-mail.

“Breast implants continue to be the most studied medical devices that are available in the world, and breast implant-related anaplastic large-cell lymphoma is a rare and very treatable form of lymphoma,” McCarthy added. “For women who are considering breast implants, the advantages and disadvantages to structured versus smooth shell implants should be examined.”

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