Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Message from the Recent FDA Ruling: Don't Panic

This week the FDA announced that it has found a possible link between breast implants and a very rare type of cancer. According to the report, the agency documented about 60 cases of anaplastic large cell lymphoma among the five to 10 million women with implants. Based on these findings, the FDA is requiring changes to the product's labeling.

Breast implants have been scrutinized for decades, and it is the FDA's responsibility to inspect such products for public safety. However, the takeaway message from this study for women with breast implants is this: Don't panic!

To put this study in perspective: If 60 cases occurred among six million implants, that comes to a lifetime risk of one in 100,000 for this type of cancer. However, the average woman has a one in 17 lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer, regardless of whether she has implants or not.

I urge all women to monitor their breast health through self-exams and regular mammograms. For those with implants, check for any irregularities such as fluid collection around the implant, pain or breast asymmetry. The risk of developing cancer is extremely low, and these results are very early. However, I encourage women to contact their healthcare professional if they have any concerns or further questions. Keeping a watchful eye on your health is good practice, no matter what.

-Ed Partridge, M.D.

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