The FDA meets on Tuesday for a second day,after the agency reported last fall that 457 cases of cancer were detected in women with breast implants. Some women with structured implants develop a type of cancer called lymphoma. It was thought to be easy to cure, but one case involving a Texas woman raises new questions about how deadly cancer might be.
Sandra Rush is a grandmother who had breast implants for more than two decades and had no problems until April 201
"My left breast began to swell and it was tough," Rush told CBS News. Anna Werner, who has been reporting on this topic since 2017. "I was really shocked, I could not – I could not # 39; you can not believe it."
It's called Breast Implant Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma, a rare cancer that, according to the FDA, may arise after breast implants. Most women suffering from this cancer, such as Rush, have so-called textured breast implants, which have a rough surface that is supposed to restrict the movement of an implant but can also cause cancer. One of the theories is that the rough surface of the implant irritates and ignites the tissue.
Reports to the FDA show that out of 457 cancer cases, at least 310 had structured implants. Most women are cured after the doctors remove the implants, but in Rush's case, after her implants were removed and she had breast reconstructions, she had unusual jaw pain. The doctors have done another test.
"It showed that it metastasized my whole body," Rush said. "I was in total shock, I was in total shock."
She was not the only one. Breast surgeon Elisabeth Potter is Rush's doctor.
"When I received the report on the pathology, I was amazed I actually thought it was wrong," said Potter. "I read it and read it again."
The cancer had moved beyond the area of the implant and into its tissues and bones. It was something that Potter had "never heard of".
"I did not expect it, you did not learn that could happen," she said.
Rush's cancer was not only not easily cured – he could kill her as well. Potter says it took five rounds of chemo and a stem cell transplant to bring Rush in remission.
"We have seen something new in the context of breast implant cancer, but I just want you to be aware of that," Dr. Potter.
The country's top three breast implant manufacturers – Allergan, Sientra and Mentor – told CBS News that textured implants have been extensively tested for safety and FDA compliance, and that patient safety is a top priority. Mentor says the cancer risk of implants is rare.
But that's not good enough for Dr. Potter. She said she would stop using her because she does not pass what she calls her "the sister test" in her practice. If you do not give it to your sister, you should not give it to your patients.
Dr. Potter now specializes in using a woman's own abdominal fat to reconstruct a new breast rather than using implants. If a patient wants an unstructured implant, he provides it, but he says, "The power should be in the woman's hands, let her give the information and let her choose … This implant carries a higher risk. Would you like it? Your body? It's that simple. "
Last month, Rush received a clear health bill from her oncologist, but regrets the day nearly a quarter of a century ago when she decided she needed breast implants.
"I think women are somehow conditioned in their minds that they want to look a certain way, because that's the way to look … Like me, I mean, I've paid more than one for it."
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