Warwickshire plastic surgeon

Is There a Link Between Breast Implants and Cancer

In the past there have been reports possibly linking a very rare form of cancer with textured breast implants, which have become increasingly popular in recent years as they lower the risk of capsular contracture.

What are the chances?

The first thing we need to do is put this cancer and the chances of developing it into perspective. Anaplastic large-cell lymphoma, also known as ALCL, is extremely rare and is more likely to affect children and young adults and is more prevalent in males. It is caused by abnormal T-cells building up in the lymph nodes. In the USA, the incidence rate of ALCL diagnosis is 3 in 100 million per year.

The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), the UK’s leading independent plastic surgery association, of which I’m a member, carry out audits of all their members’ work. In the last ten years, their surgeons have performed almost 80,000 breast augmentation procedures and in that time, there has not been one case of ALCL reported.

The study itself that first highlighted a potential link actually is only based on 150 cases out of a potential 15 million women worldwide who have breast implants. Furthermore, recent clinical studies have not been able to prove with certainty whether breast implants will increase the risk for developing ALCL.

What are the risks associated with breast augmentation surgery?

This is not to say that this procedure is risk-free and I always ensure that my Warwickshire breast augmentation patients are well aware of all the potential complications before deciding to go ahead.

Beast augmentation surgery risks include all of the usual problems associated with a surgical procedure performed under a general anaesthetic. Furthermore, there are complications specific to this procedure which generally relate to the insertion of a foreign body – the breast implant.

These include capsular contracture, where there is an encapsulation around the implant which can harden and compress the implant overtime. Rates of capsular contracture vary but it is thought that up to 10 per cent of women over a ten-year period will experience capsular contracture, although the use of polyurethane-coated implants appears to lower this significantly.

For patients in the Warwickshire area who have undergone a breast augmentation procedure and may be worried by reports in the media, I am always happy to have a consultation where we can discuss this further. I would also advise any breast augmentation patient who notices a change in their breasts or any lumps or swellings to seek immediate medical advice.