Silicone-filled and saline-filled breast implants contaminated with bacteria may increase the risk of a rare type of cancer, according to researchers with Macquarie University Health Sciences Centre in Australia.
Plastic surgeons have known that the most common complication with breast augmentation, capsular contracture, is often caused by infections acquired during surgery. Contracture occurs when the scar tissue around the implant hardens causing physical deformity and pain. But the new research is the first to link infected implants to Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma, or ALCL.
“This chronic irritation goes on and on, and over a period of time, it stimulates the immune system where some of these cells can potentially transform into cancer,” said researcher Anand Deva.
As part of the study, researchers looked at tissue samples from 22 women who developed the rare form of lymphoma after receiving breast implants. They found that the patients had developed the disease within eight years of surgery. They also noted that implants with a textured surface were 70 times more likely to harbor bacteria than implants with smooth surfaces.
ALCL is rare. Only about 300 cases have been reported worldwide. Most women who develop the disease recovery fully after surgery. But in some cases, chemotherapy and radiotherapy are needed.
Researchers recommend that cosmetic and plastic surgeons take measures to reduce the risk of infection through antibiotic regimes, wound irrigation and minimally handling implants. Women with implants should also monitor for any changes in their breasts that could indicate infection or ruptures.
Source: ABC News