The Truth About Breast Implant Cancer


Whew—this is certainly not shaping up to be a fabulous PR month for the Dr. 90210s of the world. First, a German porn star dies in the midst of her sixth breast enhancement surgery. Now, the FDA is reporting that both saline and silicone breast implants may lead to a rare cancer called anaplastic large cell lymphoma, or ALCL.

The agency went through tons of medical and scientific reports from 1997 up to last May and found 60 cases of the disease in women who had boob jobs. ALCL appears in the scar tissue that surrounds the implant, and it is NOT a form of breast cancer. It's actually a type of lymphoma, a cancer of the cells of the immune system, which can occur in many different parts of the body.

Symptoms include long-term swelling or pain near the implant, the development of fluid around the implant, and in some cases, scarring around the implant.

As freaky and awful as it sounds, it turns out that ALCL linked to breast implants is supposedly less aggressive—and more easily treated—than other forms of the disease. And while it can be deadly, the numbers don't really seem to reflect a HUGE risk. As the FDA reported, there were only 60 cases of ALCL over the course of 13 years in the 5-10 millions of women who have breast implants ... So, maybe it isn't that big and hairy a deal. Either way, it sure is good to bear in mind.

After all, Bridalplasty contestants and regular Janes alike should be reminded that the average boob job doesn't necessarily equal nonstop Victoria's Secret cleavage and perky bikini dreams. There is also the potential for some nasty downstream effects, such as surgical complications, ruptured implants, or capsular contracture (which occurs when the scar tissue or capsule that normally forms around the implant tightens and squeezes the implant). In the past, silicone implants in particular were linked to various illnesses, including cancer and rheumatoid arthritis.

So, as with any type of surgical procedure, it's probably best to exercise caution, do research so you know the facts, and work with the most patient and knowledgeable physician you can find.

To the ladies who already have faux-busts, the news about ALCL is by no means a code red emergency alert to run to your surgeon and request removal. The FDA says that if you should note any strange symptoms (like the above), check with your doc. Duh.

Does learning about ALCL make you less likely to ever consider breast enhancement surgery?


Image via CraigFinlay/Flickr

breasts, cancer, cosmetic surgery, plastic surgery


To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

bills... billsfan1104

Wtf. Now I have to worry about this crap? I have breast cancer. I had one breast removed and immediate reconstruction. So now I have an implant. This scares me.

nonmember avatar GG

You should also mention breast implants interfere with detection of breast cancer.

ethan... ethans_momma06

No, as I do not plan to have one, and have no medical reason to get one.

Peajewel Peajewel

billsfan1104, I am sorry you have to worry about this.  If I were you, I would double check with my breast cancer doctor right away to see what they have to say about this matter.  I know 9 times out of 10 my doctor always makes me feel better about these things. 


Summer de La Roche

Billsfan1104- I had bilateral mastectomy with silicone implants in 2010. If your surgeon was like mine they took every bit of tissue and put the implants behind the muscle. Which means all the lymph nodes in your breast were removed so it shouldn't be an issue for us.

GG- I had a previous set of saline implants which were in place when my breast cancer was discovered. I think if your the tech knows what they are doing they can still get a clear mammogram for early detection of any problems.

frysh... fryshannon34

I wasnt planning on ever getting them so it doesnt really affect me

tazdvl tazdvl

Don't plan on getting them.

sstepph sstepph

I dont think Id want to get one.


I wouldn't consider it anyway.  I know there are people out there that do it anyway though,  turning a blind eye to the risks all in the name of vanity.  Sad, it is.

Ashly... Ashlynnsmommy07

the only breast surgery I want is a reduction!

1-10 of 12 comments 12 Last