For reasons researchers still haven’t discovered, texture seems to matter when it comes to the link between breast implants and a rare form of cancer.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration released a report this week saying that the agency believes that breast implants were associated with 359 reported cases of anaplastic large-cell lymphoma. Of those cases, 231 included details about the kind of implant involved and 203 were textured.
Although the type of cancer can usually be beat with treatment, the patient died in nine of the cases.
The FDA’s conclusion that the implants were the culprit behind this type of cancer follows a similar assessment made by the World Health Organization years ago. The FDA first raised the possibility that there could be a small but significant link in 2011.
Unlike other health scares related to breast implants — such as the ongoing litigation drama against Johnson & Johnson for its leaky silicone implants — this kind of lymphoma is not linked to the contents of the implants.
Instead, it typically develops in the scar tissue around the implant and is a rare malignancy of the immune system. The symptoms can include lumps, pain, swelling, and fluid buildup.
Textured implants are often used by surgeons who want to make sure they don’t shift around. According to a report in the New York Times, lab studies have revealed that animals have different genetic activity in response to textured implants versus smooth ones — but scientists can’t figure out why.
An estimated 290,000 American women got implants in 2016 to enlarge their breasts and another 109,000 had them during reconstruction surgery after breast cancer.
The FDA did not recommend that women remove textured implants and cautioned that they would experience symptoms if there was a risk of health problems.