An Oncologist Considers Rare Lymphomas in Women With Breast Implants

I have to admit that when I first read about the FDA’s report tying rare cases of anaplastic large cell lymphoma to breast implants, my mind raced with a strange blend of excitement, intense interest and concern. My thoughts shifted from “wow, that’s really interesting” to “exactly what did the FDA find” to “should I be worried?”

So I’ve decided to write this morning’s post from my perspective as an oncologist

FDA Reports on Association of Breast Implants and a Rare Form of Lymphoma

It’s a Pandora’s box, but one that needs be opened. The problem is that if we biopsy every abnor­mality – such as a minor thick­ening or fluid accu­mu­lation adjacent to a breast implant – we’ll hike up the costs and, more impor­tantly, the com­pli­ca­tions asso­ciated: With every needle stick there’s a risk of infection, addi­tional scar for­mation and more. On the other hand, you wouldn’t want to overlook a treatable, early-stage lym­phoma. Women need to know of the risks of implants, which can only be deter­mined if doctors thor­oughly inves­tigate these sorts of complications.

New NY State Law on Information for Women Undergoing Mastectomy

The reality is that many women, particularly poor women without newspapers or internet access in their homes, don’t know about any of this. They don’t know their insurance covers pretty much all of these options, by law. Now they will, or should as of Jan 1, 2011. Good. The other curiosity is that …

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