A Florida woman who underwent breast augmentation in the 1990s now believes textured breast implants caused her to develop a rare form of cancer called anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL). Stacy Boone recently appeared on the NBC TODAY to warn other women of this potential risk.
“It has been the hardest road I’ve ever could imagine,” Boone, 51, said during TODAY’s April 19th broadcast “I wanted to give up so many times.”
According to TODAY, textured breast implants account for about 13% of the U.S. market. Their rough surface is supposed to reduce movement and lessen the risk of capsular contracture. However, recent data suggests that recipients of textured breast implants are 67% more likely to develop ALCL compared to the general population.
“I had no idea what they were putting in me,” Boone remembered. “I didn’t even know there was a difference.”
Her ordeal began in 2013, when Boone developed flu-like symptoms. Eventually, her left breast grew and became hard to the touch. She noticed a lump in her clavicle. Unfortunately, her ailment would remain a mystery until 2015, when Boone was finally diagnosed with stage 4 ALCL.
“I was shocked. That was the last thing I thought of,” she said. “Worst case scenario, I thought maybe it was leaking.”
Boone has since undergone a half-dozen rounds of chemotherapy, removal of her implants, and a stem cell transplant. Fortunately, her cancer responded to treatment, resulting in a remission that has lasted nearly two years.
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) first warned of a possible link between breast implants and ALCL in 2011. In an update issued earlier this year, the agency disclosed that at least 359 women had developed the cancer in the cells around their breast implants, nine of whom died. The FDA now estimates that ALCL will affect about in 1 in 300,000 women with the devices.
The majority (200) of the ALCL reports logged by the FDA involved textured breast implants, while just 28 cases were reported with smooth surfaces implants. The remaining did not note surface type. Of the 312 reports that included mention of fill type, 186 reported saline gel, while 126 reported implants filled with saline.
The FDA recommends that breast implant patients continue to follow their doctors’ instructions regarding monitoring, regardless of implant type. Routine mammogram screenings with a technician who has been specifically trained to perform the test on breast implant recipients is also advised. Most importantly, patients should inform their physician if they notice any changes or problems affecting their implants.