Verify: Do Breast Implants Cause Cancer?

VERIFY BREAST IMPLANTS

Last year, almost 300,000 women received breast implants.  It's the number one cosmetic procedure in America, according the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

And some of you have questions about it, like Verify viewer Amy McIntyre, who sent us this question:

"I want to know can silicone implants cause cancer,” she asked.

To answer Amy's question, I reviewed research from the US Food and Drug Administration.

And I visited with Dr. Roshni Rao.  She's a surgical oncologist and an expert in breast cancer at UT Southwestern Simmons Cancer Center.

“Can breast implants cause cancer?” I asked Dr. Rao.

“Breast implants can cause a very specific type of lymphoma,” she answered.

That conclusion is based on FDA research that found a rare type of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma "can develop following breast implants".  To date, that rare cancer has led to nine deaths.

So, technically the answer to Amy’s question is yes, implants can cause cancer.  But Dr. Rao also says the cancer only occurs .3 times per 100,000 implants.

“So that's rare,” I said.

“Very rare. Extremely rare,” Dr. Rao said.

“So having a fear of getting cancer caused by implants is not borne out by the total experience that woman are having?” I asked.

“Correct. And even as we look at this incidence, it was a very specific type of implant.  Not even all implants,” she said.

Breast implants are manufactured with two kinds of finishes; smooth and textured.  It's the textured kind that are implicated by the FDA study.

However, the incidence of cancer is so rare the FDA says "removal in patients without symptoms...  is not recommended."

In fact, Dr. Rao says, plastic surgeon continue to implant the textured variety, after first counseling patients about the minimal risk involved.

Finally, Dr. Rao also told David, over time, a percentage of implants can leak. But leaking implants have not been shown to cause cancer.

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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