If you or someone close to you has gotten cancer from breast implants, you should know that you are not the only one. The federal Food and Drug Administration has received hundreds of reports that women with breast implants have developed anaplastic large-cell lymphoma, and at least nine of them have lost their lives. Our law firm is closely monitoring developments involving this cancer, and if you have been affected, we’d like to talk to you.
At John Foy & Associates, our history of helping people who have suffered medical injuries goes back 20 years. In that time, we have built a reputation as a law firm that has the resources and the guts to win money from some of the biggest companies in the country. If you or a loved one has developed cancer because of breast implants, we’d like to talk to you, for free, and at no obligation. Let us give you a free consultation. Call us at 404-400-4000 and get your free consultation today.
What kind of cancer is caused by breast implants?
Breast implants have been linked to a cancer is known as breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma, or BIA-ALCL for short. BIA-ALCL is not a type of breast cancer. Instead, it is a rare type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system.
Non-Hodgkins lymphoma begins in the lymphatic system, the vast network that extends throughout the body to fight disease. The cancer causes white blood cells that fight infection to grow in an uncontrolled way. ALCL is a type of T-cell lymphoma in which the cells, known as lymphocytes, build up in lymph nodes or in other body parts.
There are two primary types of ALCL:
- Primary cutaneous ACL begins in the skin as red lesions that don’t go away and may ulcerate and itch. This type of cancer grows slowly, and only about 10 percent of cases ever go beyond the skin into the lymph nodes or other organs.
- Systemic ALCL affects the lymph nodes and possibly other organs, and it is known as an aggressive and fast-growing cancer. The course of the disease and treatment may depend on whether the cancerous cells have an abnormal type of protein on their surface known as anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK). Patients who test positive for ALK usually respond well to chemotherapy and their cancer often goes into long-term remission. ALK negative patients also respond well, but they are more likely to relapse and may need more aggressive treatments.
ALCL is usually diagnosed through a biopsy, and other tests may be performed to find out how far the disease has spread. Treatment usually involves removing the implants, and your doctor may also recommend chemotherapy and radiation.
How do implants cause cancer?
BIA-ALCL appears to be more commonly caused by implants that are textured, as opposed to smooth implants. According to the FDA, 203 of the 231 cases reported to it as of 2016 involved textured implants, while only 28 involved smooth ones. Most breast implants used in the United States are smooth, but some implant shapes work better if they are textured, because tissue can attach itself to the rough surface and prevent the implant from shifting out of place.
Researchers are still exploring how exactly this might lead to cancer, and theories include the methods used to create the texture and whether biofilms might play a part. Researchers do not believe it matters whether the implants are filled with saline or silicone gel. Until more is known, every woman who has had breast implants is potentially at risk.
How bad is the risk?
The risk is relatively small, but no one is certain how small it really is. According to a study published in the journal JAMA surgery in 2017, estimates range from 1 in 4,000 women with breast implants to 1 in 30,000 women. However, the study’s authors believe this cancer is underreported and that “the diagnosis appears to be increasing.” Since the cancer is slow-growing, it may not be diagnosed or reported until years after the implants have been inserted.
The New York Times notes that the reported risk of ALCL in Australia is much higher – somewhere between 1 in 1,000 and 1 in 10,000. To put those numbers in context, nearly 400,000 women get breast implants each year in the United States – either for cosmetic reasons or for reconstruction after breast cancer. That means that there could be tens of thousands of victims, some of whom had implants only because they had already survived breast cancer.
The risk may be worse because until recently, most doctors weren’t familiar with ALCL and didn’t know the signs to look for. This means women may have been misdiagnosed, or their diagnoses and life-saving treatment may have been delayed. But in March 2017, the FDA reported that it had received 359 medical device reports of patients with BIA-ALCL, including nine deaths. The FDA recommended that health care providers monitor patients for symptoms.
What are the symptoms of BIA-ALCL cancer?
The initial symptoms of ALCL can be subtle and can seem like they are related to something else. But if you have breast implants, it is important to be vigilant if you notice these symptoms of systemic ALCL:
- Swelling in the lymph nodes, typically in the neck, armpit or groin
- Pain or swelling around the breasts
- Diminished appetite
- Unexpected weight loss
- Night sweats
These symptoms can appear years after breast implant surgery. If you have these symptoms, keep a record of them and see your health care provider right away.
Talk to a Breast Implant Cancer Lawsuit Lawyer
At John Foy & Associates, our only goal is to help people who have been injured. If you or someone you care about has breast implants and has been diagnosed with ALCL, we may be able to help you get money. When you work with us, there are never any hidden fees – you don’t pay anything unless we are able to recover money for you. Let us give you a free consultation. Call us at 404-400-4000 or fill out the form to your right and get your FREE consultation today.