PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — There is a new warning about breast implants and a deadly cancer. This is a warning, not about a typical kind of breast cancer, but one that forms in scar tissue around the implants. Federal health officials say incidents are increasing and they want doctors to be on the lookout.
Breast implants are being linked to a rare and deadly cancer. Now, health care providers are being advised to diagnose it early if possible. The warning comes in a letter from the FDA to doctors outlining the potential dangers.
“There’s definitely a lot of women out there that are affected,” said Dr. Brian Buinewicz, a plastic surgeon.
Buinewicz, who operates out of Bucks County, says the FDA is off to a good start raising awareness and gathering more information.
“We really don’t know out of all the patients with implants out there who is potentially getting sick from them,” he said.
The FDA says at least 457 women in the U.S. have been diagnosed with anaplastic large-cell lymphoma. Nine of them have died.
Implants with textured surfaces are more closely linked to the lymphoma than those with smooth surfaces.
“I feel incredible. Like really, I haven’t felt this good in over 10 years,” said Karen Monetti, who turned to Buinewicz to remove her implants. “It’s insane. I was getting sicker and sicker and I didn’t know why.”
The professional figure competitor didn’t have lymphoma. She had a constellation of illness, an implant syndrome that tens of thousands of women complain about on Facebook support pages.
“We all have so many common issues,” Monetti said.
While the new FDA warning letter only relates to anaplastic large-cell lymphoma, not generalized implant illness, Monetti and Buinewicz feel at least conversations will be started.
Buinewicz says he has a growing number of sick patients, like Monetti, who want their implants removed.
“I have 200 patients over two years that the vast majority of them are getting better,” he said. “Something’s out there.”
Symptoms of implant illnesses can range from skin and digestion trouble to joint pain and mental fog. The implant lymphoma can cause lumps, swelling and pain. Treatment for both is usually removing the implant.
More information on the disease can be found on the FDA’s website.