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Cancer Risk Increases With Breast Implants

November 5, 2008

Silicone breast implants may increase the risk of developing a rare form of lymphoma.

However, the authors of the new study say because anaplastic large T-cell lymphoma (ALCL) of the breast is so rare, the total risk is still very low.

Dr. Daphne de Jong, from The Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam, and researchers studied the link between silicone implants and this type of cancer after finding two patients who had ALCL in the fibrous capsule surrounding their silicone breast implants.

Researchers examined a Dutch pathology database and identified 11 women who were diagnosed with ALCL of the breast from 1990 to 2006.

Each patient was matched by age and year of diagnosis to one or more women with other types of lymphomas in the breast.

The authors report in the Journal of the American Medical Association that five of the ALCL patients had received silicone implants in both breasts 1 to 23 years prior to diagnosis.

In all the women, the implants were placed for cosmetic reasons.

The study found just 1 of the 35 control patients had a breast implant before their lymphoma diagnosis.

The most common lymphoma in the control group was diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, followed by mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue-type lymphoma.

“The odds ratio for ALCL in the breast associated with silicone breast prosthesis placed for cosmetic reasons was 18.2,” the researchers noted.

Researchers say the absolute risk of ALCL with silicone breast implants is exceedingly small.

“These findings must be considered preliminary and hypothesis-generating and are not strong enough to definitively conclude that breast implants predispose women to non-Hodgkin lymphoma,” said Dr. Andrew M. Evens and Dr. Brian C.H. Chiu from Northwestern University, Chicago.

“However,” they add, “given that silicone is immunogenic, further evaluation of breast implant-related lymphoma is warranted, particularly by studies with statistical power, sufficient follow-up, and information on other factors.”

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