Breast cancer survivor Raylene Hollrah was ready to move on with a positive attitude and a new body after undergoing treatment and reconstructive surgery. Then came the second cancer diagnosis – Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (ALCL), a type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
“I hear the word cancer again, second time by the age of 40,” she recalls. What her doctors told her next would devastate her. The cause of her ALCL was not her primary breast cancer but the breast implants she had received during reconstructive surgery.
“This phenomenon that we’re seeing … ALCL, it seems to develop in some patients in the scar tissue around the breast implant,” said Dr. Mark Clemens, Raylene’s plastic and reconstructive surgeon and an expert on this rare cancer linked to breast implants. The cancer usually surfaces years after breast implant surgery.
In 2011, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned the public that breast implants – both silicone-filled and saline-filled breast implants – were associated with cases of ALCL. Based on these reports, the FDA cautioned patients and health care providers that women with breast implants could be at risk of developing this serious disease.
Since 2011, the FDA has received even more data on ALCL risk in women with breast implants, leading the FDA to reinforce its warning to consumers.
“From August 25, 2010 through September 10, 2015, the FDA received 258 medical device reports including those in our original report, of anaplastic large cell lymphoma in women with breast implants, with reports of three deaths,” the FDA said in a Safety Alert.
“Based on the information we have received and reviewed, our current estimate is that there have been 100-250 known cases of ALCL in women with breast implants worldwide. All of the information to date still suggests that women with breast implants may have a very low but increased risk of developing ALCL. We continue to reconcile the data between the various sources. We will continue to provide updated findings as new information and analyses become available,” the Safety Alert reads.