On Friday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a safety communication informing patients and providers about reports of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and various lymphomas located in the capsule or scar tissue around breast implants.
After an initial extensive review, the FDA currently believes that the risk of SCC and other lymphomas occurring in the tissue around breast implants is rare. However, in this case, and when safety risks with medical devices are identified, they want to provide clear and understandable information to the public as quickly as possible.
In some reported cases, patients were diagnosed years after having breast implants and presented with findings such as swelling, pain, lumps or skin changes. These emerging reports of lymphoma in scar tissue are different from Breast Implant Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL), which the FDA began communicating about as a potential risk more than a decade ago.
The FDA’s work in the area of patient-centered risk communication for these devices has accelerated in recent years, including convening stakeholders to share perspectives that have informed the FDA’s regulatory oversight and implementation of new requirements for manufacturers. The FDA works to continue to engage top cancer experts and are consulting with our Oncology Center of Excellence to ensure a coordinated approach informed by leaders in the field. Additionally, the agency continues to closely monitor various data sources, such as the scientific literature, adverse event reports submitted to the agency and is soliciting information from manufacturers regarding any reports they may have regarding SCC and other lymphomas related to the tissue around an implant.
Right now, the FDA feels they do not have enough information to say whether breast implants cause these cancers or if some implants pose higher risk than others. For this reason, instances of SCC, lymphoma and any cancer located in the scar tissue around breast implants should be reported to the FDA. Their collective understanding has advanced significantly because of the efforts to study, communicate and act when needed. As the agency moves further into adopting modernized approaches to their regulatory responsibilities to promote faster science-based decision-making, accurate data is crucial.
If a patient with breast implants is experiencing a problem, or there is a case of SCC, lymphoma or any other cancer of the breast implant capsule identified, the FDA strongly encourages reporting this through MedWatch, the FDA Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting program. Reporting strengthens our ability to work with manufacturers and others to improve safety.