RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
A type of textured breast implant linked to a rare type of cancer has been recalled around the world. And the FDA has asked the company to pull the implants from the American market.
NPR's Allison Aubrey reports.
ALLISON AUBREY, BYLINE: The FDA first reported a possible link between textured breast implants and a rare type of lymphoma back in 2011. Now, the agency has new information. It has found that specific types of textured implants manufactured by the company Allergan appear to be directly linked to the harm and to some deaths.
Daniel Maman is a plastic surgeon in New York. He says given the risks linked to these textured implants...
DANIEL MAMAN: Taking them off the market was a prudent and the right approach.
AUBREY: Every year, about 300,000 people receive breast implants in the U.S. Many surgeons, like Maman, only use smooth, round implants. The textured ones are less commonly used here compared to Europe and Asia. Now, worldwide, the FDA has documented 573 cases where people who got the implants developed a rare type of lymphoma. And among those, 481 cases are attributed to Allergan's textured implants. In addition, a dozen women with the Allergan implants have died from the rare cancer.
MAMAN: I personally have not used a textured implant in at least five years because of this exact reason that they were taken off the market.
AUBREY: As scary as this may sound, the FDA says, overall, the incidence of implant-related lymphoma is relatively low, given the hundreds of thousands of implants performed each year. And in a statement, Allergan says it's taking this action to recall its products as a precaution.
Now, it has not been clear whether texturing is responsible for the cancer or just associated with a higher risk. But the latest thinking is that the texture on the implant has a physiological response and interacts with surrounding scar tissue that forms after the implants are put in.
MAMAN: And it's that response that is believed to cause the formation of this lymphoma.
AUBREY: As for people who already have the textured implants, the FDA does not recommend removing them unless there are symptoms or problems. But surgeon Daniel Maman says it is possible to take them out.
MAMAN: Removing implants is really not a big deal at all. But surgery is surgery. Any surgery has its inherent risks, so it's heavily dependent on the patient and the circumstance.
AUBREY: The FDA is providing information to both patients and to providers who have questions about possible next steps. Allison Aubrey, NPR News, Washington.
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