The medical industry has afforded us some amazing advances in fighting diseases as well as cosmetic options that one might opt to take up. Unfortunately with these advances also come risks, and often times the distributor has not taken the time to properly test and analyze their product for any potential problems before putting it on the market, and the consumers end up being the ones that have to pay the price. It’s recently been revealed that breast implants are among these items that can cause undo harm and injury upon its users. Testing has shown that textured breast implants have been linked to cancer and autoimmune disease.
Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (ALCL), a subtype of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma has been shown to come solely from breast implants. According to the FDA there has been 871 diagnosed cases of this disease worldwide, with 33 known deaths. It has been found in both silicone gel and saline implants. Because there’s been a relatively low prevalence, there has not been significant research conducted and knowledge is limited. Its symptoms are often mistook for breast cancer, but functions in an entirely different way. As a cancer of the lymph nodes, ALCL prevents the immune system from functioning as it should to protect the body from disease and harm. Lymph nodes mainly function to drain fluid that contains bacteria from the body, and when swollen the white blood cells have to fight to keep the bacteria from spreading to other vulnerable parts of the body. The exact correlation between developing ALCL and textured breast implants is not currently known, but there are a much higher incidence of ALCL with textured implants.
Treatment of ALCL often involves removing the implants along with any surrounding scar tissue that has developed. Major surgery like this is often accompanied by risks to the patient as well as an often times painful recovery period. Patients are encouraged to continue follow ups post-surgery, and any symptoms such as pain, lumps, swelling, fluid collections, or unexpected changes in breast shape should be reported to one’s physician. Changes in the look or feel of the area that had surrounded the implant are often significantly greater than one year after the surgery sites were fully healed, averaging a full eight to ten years after receiving implants. For advanced disease, chemotherapy and other cancer treatment methods may be necessary. The majority of implants that can cause ALCL include major manufacturers Allergan, Mentor, and Sientra, though it can be found in several others as well.
As mentioned above, signs and symptoms of ALCL are often similar to breast cancer, and the symptoms can sometimes be mistaken for breast cancer symptoms. Lymphoma differs from breast cancer in that the onset of symptoms is due to a fluid buildup around the implant, called a seroma. They are very common and typically not malignant or harmful. When the majority of the fluid has been developed more than a year after the implant surgery, however, the fluid should be tested for signs of disease. Symptoms include:
- Enlarged lymph nodes, painful and swollen
- Breast enlargement
- Skin rash
- Hardening of the breast
- Weight loss
- Increased sensitivity to chemicals or potent smells.
ALCL is tested for using a needle biopsy, which can take a sample of the fluid to determine if it is cancerous, along with imaging such as an ultrasound, PET scan, CT scan, MRI scan, or mammogram to identify any visual abnormalities present. Toxicity testing can also be used to detect metals in the surrounding breast tissue, which may occur because silicone implants can leak into the surrounding tissue, causing a toxic build up.
Discovering a major company that you trusted with your health and safety has in fact caused you a great deal of harm due to negligence and malfeasance on their part can be a devastating revelation for many. People often times feel overwhelmed with all of the issues they now have to deal with. Treatment is often successful, but often becomes highly expensive, which can greatly increase the stress placed on the body, as well as potentially deter individuals from seeking care knowing the high financial burdens treatment brings. All of these costs would have been avoidable if the companies making the breast implants had properly researched and tested their property before placing it on the market in order to obtain profits from it. Having a lawyer to guide you through this process often affords people a sense of control and comfort, as they are not alone in their fight and are now taking active steps to obtain justice from the wrong that has been perpetrated against them. A lawyer gives you the ability to fight back against those who have harmed you.
Due to the revealed harm associated with these breast implants, the office that handled your implant surgery may have sent you a letter informing you of the recall already. If you have this letter, make sure to keep it with your records, as it can be valuable to your case. Your implant card information will also be necessary in determining if the breast implants you received were textured and recalled.
If your implants have been recalled and you didn’t develop cancer or other major side effects, you may still have a claim against the company for compensation. If you had a subsequent surgery to remove the implants as a precautionary measure, you may have a case.
If you have breast implants and start developing any of the above symptoms or believe your implants have been recalled, make sure to consult with a physician immediately to determine if ALCL is the cause, and contact the Law Offices of Rudolph F.X. Migliore. We would love to hear your story and help in any way we can. Our team is here for you throughout the entire lawsuit process. Call us at 631-543-3663 to schedule a free consultation. Our local Long Island office is your point of contact.