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Breast implants linked to cancer risk?

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Breast cancer is a major threat to women’s health across the globe.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Thursday warned women who have breast implants or are considering getting them that certain cancers may develop in scar tissue forming around the implants.

The malignancies seem to be rare, but they have been linked to implants of all types, including those with textured and smooth surfaces, and those filled with saline or silicone.

Scientists had already linked an unusual cancer called anaplastic large cell lymphoma primarily to textured implants, whose rough exteriors presumably cause more inflammation than those of smooth implants. Lymphoma is a cancer of the immune system.

The FDA confirmed that link over a decade ago, but textured implants, made by Allergan, were on the market until 2019. The agency’s new warning called attention to another cancer, called squamous cell carcinoma, and also to other types of lymphoma that may be related to the implants.

In a typical year, some 400,000 women get breast implants in the United States, 300,000 for cosmetic reasons and 100,000 for reconstruction after mastectomies performed to treat or prevent breast cancer.

Numbers dropped substantially during the first year of the pandemic, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Last year, the FDA placed so-called black-box labels on breast implants, warning that they had been linked to a host of chronic medical conditions, including autoimmune disease, joint pain, mental confusion, muscle aches and chronic fatigue, as well as to lymphoma.

Among those at highest risk for developing later illnesses are breast cancer patients who have had or plan to undergo chemotherapy or radiation treatments — and who represent a large percentage of the women who are encouraged to have breast reconstruction with implants.

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