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Plastic Surgeons Trivialize Cancer in Implant Patients, Group Says

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, February 18, 2011

The webinar had intended to help doctors convey to patients that there is a wide spectrum of lymphomas, but this type, seen on the skin, has a different presentation than the systemic type, and "acts more benignly," says Felmont Eaves, president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, which co-sponsored the webinar. 

"People need to understand this is not breast cancer, and that it is incredibly rare, and at this point, appears to be highly treatable," Eaves says.

Asked if in retrospect, Haeck used a poor choice of words, Eaves replies, "Yes. We could have made it more clear."

An FDA spokeswoman acknowledged having received Wolfe's letter, and said her agency "has been very clear in our communications of the possible association between breast implants and the development of ALCL, which is a very rare type of cancer.

"It's important that health care professionals and women who have breast implants or are considering breast implants are aware of FDA's recommendations on this issue. FDA continues to work with patient groups, breast implant manufacturers and professional societies to ensure that women are adequately informed about this association so that they can make educated medical decisions," she said.

The FDA's recommendation cautions that this type of cancer has been found in 60 women worldwide, and represents "a very small fraction of the 5-10 million women who have received breast implants worldwide."


Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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