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Few U.S. Women Know About Cancer That Develops Near Breast Implants: Study

THURSDAY, July 30, 2020 -- There's a low level of awareness among American women about a form of lymphoma that can occur around breast implants, a new study finds.

Breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) is an immune system cancer. It's estimated to occur in between 1 in 3,000 and 1 in 12,000 women with textured breast implants. Smooth-surfaced implants are associated with a lower rate.

More than 620 cases and at least 17 deaths from BIA-ALCL have been reported worldwide.

Of 500 U.S. women surveyed, about 1 in 7 said they had heard of BIA-ALCL. However, among the 12% of respondents who had implants, slightly more than half were aware of it.

After receiving information about BIA-ALCL risk, about 58% of respondents said they'd still be willing to get a reconstructive breast implant, and 46% would willing to get cosmetic breast implants. But 36% said they'd be less likely to get an implant.

Two-thirds of the women with implants "expressed some degree of concern" regarding BIA-ALCL, and 35% said they were "strongly considering removing their implants."

There is no current recommendation to remove breast implants in women with no implant-related symptoms. Symptoms of BIA-ALCL include swelling, a mass or pain in the area of the implant, according to the study published in the July issue of the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Dr. Justin Sacks, chief of plastic and reconstructive surgery at Washington University in St. Louis, led the study.

"Our findings can help surgeons navigate the risks of BIA-ALCL with current and prospective patients and can guide future public education efforts on BIA-ALCL," Sacks and colleagues said in a journal news release.

The study also found that most women who'd heard of BIA-ALCL got their information through the media and health care blogs.

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Posted: July 2020