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8 cases of rare lymphoma from breast implants confirmed in Finland

Helsinki University Hospitals and other facilities across Finland stopped using textured breast implants last autumn.

Rintaimplantteja
File photo of silicone breast implants. Image: Antti Eintola / Yle

Helsinki University Hospital (HUS) has confirmed that eight women in Finland who received textured breast implants were or are being treated for BIA-ALCL tumors, a rare form of lymphoma, cancer of the lymphatic system.

HUS and other health care districts across the country stopped using the textured implants after reports that 650 women around the world who had received them had gotten the rare cancer.

A press release the hospital issued Monday said that the cancer was detected early in most of the patients and that the implants had been successfully removed. However, some of the patients also needed cancer medication and radiation treatment, according to the hospital.

HUS said the institution does not know exactly what caused the cases of lymphoma.

In January 2011, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning about possible links between textured breast implants and anaplastic large-cell lymphoma, according to Breastcancer.org. In 2017 the FDA updated its warning, saying that "individuals with breast implants have a risk of developing BIA-ALCL."

BIA-ALCL is not a type of breast cancer, but a form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a type of blood cancer.

HUS advises calm

HUS said that individuals who have received the implants and who have symptoms like swelling, thickening or colour changes of the breast's skin should be checked by a physician.

Typical symptoms of BIA-ALCL include a build-up of fluid around the implant which leads to swelling, or a thickening of the skin around the implant. Some patients have also experienced redness or irritation of the skin.

However, HUS' head plastic surgery physician, Tiina Jahkola, said that people shouldn't panic.

"If the breasts do not show any symptoms, there's no reason to worry. Patients without symptoms do not require regular checkups (apart from normal breast cancer exams) and the implant does not need to be removed for safety's sake," Jahkola said.

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