Breast implants do not appear to increase the risk of breast cancer. But they may have associations with other cancers, such as anaplastic large cell lymphoma, other lymphomas, and squamous cell carcinoma.
Breast implants may cause a type of lymphoma called breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL).
Reports of other cancers linking to breast implants include various types of lymphomas and squamous cell carcinoma.
This article looks at the link between breast implants and cancer and how to check for signs or symptoms of cancer in the breast.
There is little evidence to suggest that breast implants cause breast cancer. However, breast implants may increase the risk of other cancers.
BIA-ALCL is a rare subtype of non-Hodgkins lymphoma which forms in the scar tissue around breast implants. It is a cancer of the immune system rather than breast tissue. Textured breast implants have a higher risk of causing BIA-ALCL than breast implants with a smooth surface.
In 2022, the
A person’s risk of developing BIA-ALCL is
According to a
Researchers found the incidence of BIA-ALCL was 1.79 in 1,000 people with textured implants, which is the same as 1 in 559 people. The average time of diagnosis was 10.3 years after implant placement.
BIA-ALCL risk may increase over time, particularly in people who have textured implants for more than 10 years.
The FDA has only received reports of less than 20 SCC cases and less than 30 cases of lymphomas other than BIA-ALCL in the scar tissue around breast implants.
Symptoms of BIA-ALCL may include:
- a lump or swelling near the breast implant
- breast pain
- uneven breasts
- collection of fluid in the breast
Symptoms of BIA-ALCL may develop
Symptoms of other lymphomas and SCC may include:
- lumps or swelling
- unusual skin changes in breast
If a person has breast implants, certain steps may help them to monitor breast health. These can include:
- keeping a record of the manufacturer and model name of the implants people receive, or ask for a patient device card from the surgeon
- attending any routine check-ups
- checking the breasts for any unusual signs or symptoms once a month
- reporting any unusual symptoms, including pain, swelling, lumps, or skin changes, to a doctor as soon as possible
- being aware that symptoms may develop
yearsafter implant surgery
Unless people have had a bilateral mastectomy, the American Cancer Society
- the option to begin yearly screening for those aged 40–44
- yearly screening for those aged 45–54
- screening every other year for those aged 55 and older
People with implants can check their breasts for signs of cancer in the same way that people without implants can check their breasts.
People will need to know their new “normal” after having breast implants, so they can be aware of any unusual changes. After implant placement, people can note things like new scar tissue, sensitivity, and firmness.
People with implants can check their breasts once a month by:
- looking in the mirror to see how their breasts normally look
- feel all of the breast tissue, which includes under the armpits and up to the collarbone
- check whilst in different positions, such as standing up or lying down
Breast changes can be due to a variety of causes. However, it is important to contact a doctor about any unusual changes or symptoms.
There is no evidence to suggest that breast implants cause breast cancer. In rare cases, however, implants may cause some types of lymphoma, including BIA-ALCL and squamous cell carcinoma.
These cancers are not breast cancer, as they do not start in breast tissue. Instead, they may form in the scar tissue around breast implants.
Signs of breast implant-associated cancers include lumps, pain, or swelling near the implant. People may also have unusual skin changes in the breast.
Regular self-checking and attending any recommended check-ups or screenings can help people to monitor their breast health with implants.