Breast implants linked to rare cancer, 9 deaths to date FDA says

Implants have been linked to a rare form of breast cancer, according to the FDA, but it’s slow-growing and is treatable if caught early.

The Food and Drug Administration has officially linked breast implants to nine deaths from a rare cancer.

The FDA has received more than 350 reports, including the nine deaths, as of Feb. 1, about breast implant-linked anaplastic large cell lymphoma, ALCL, an extremely rare cancer that affects the immune system.

“The exact number of cases remains difficult to determine due to significant limitations in world-wide reporting and lack of global implant sales data,” the agency said in a statement Tuesday.

The numbers do show that ALCL occurs more frequently in women who received textured implants, rather than implants with smooth surfaces. In the FDA report, out of 359 cases of ALCL, 231 included information on implant surfaces. The agency reported 203 involved textured implants compared to 29 that were smooth.

Symptoms of the implant-linked cancer include lumps, pain and swelling.

The government first raised concerns about the safety of both silicone and saline breast implants and the possible connection to cancer in 2011.

As many as 11 million women worldwide have breast implants, according to data from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the Plastic Surgeon Foundation.