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FDA Looking at Possible Link Between Breast Implants and Rare Cancer

You may not have heard of anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL), but for those in the breast implant business, you should get to know the term. FDA is investigating a possible link between breast implants and this rare cancer.  

FDA is aware of about 60 cases worldwide of ALCL in women with breast implants (including saline and silicone). This may not sound like much considering that 5–10 million women have implants, but clearly it's something that the public—specifically women getting implants—may want to know. And of course the makers of these implants—namely Allergan Inc. and Mentor Worldwide LLC (a J&J company)—have a stake in the situation as well.

"Data reviewed by the FDA suggest that patients with breast implants may have a very small but significant risk of ALCL in the scar capsule adjacent to the implant," the agency said in a statement.

The topic has been explored before in a 2008 JAMA article, "Anaplastic Large-Cell Lymphoma in Women with Breast Implants," which concluded that although there is a link between the two, the absolute risk is exceedingly low. Is it a risk worth taking? —Lawrence Lloyd

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