Breast implants linked to lymphoma

By Haley Hernandez - Health Reporter

HOUSTON - A doctor at MD Anderson is warning women about a cancer known as Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (ALCL) and its link to breast implants!

This kind of lymphoma develops in scar tissue around the implant. One of the biggest concerns is they haven't found any predisposing factors, and therefore they don't know who is at risk.

Like many breast cancer survivors, Raylene Hollrah thought she was in the clear after treatments and reconstructive surgery. She tried moving on with a positive attitude and new body.

"You can just call me Ray because God's light is shining through me," she said.

In a shocking twist of fate, the breast implants she got during reconstruction turned out to be the cause of her second battle with cancer.

"I got the news I was diagnosed with Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma and I really knew nothing about it," Hollrah said. "I heard the word cancer again, second time by the age 40."

She went to Dr. Mark Clemens, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon at MD Anderson, and an expert on this rare cancer linked to breast implants. He was an author on a publication with the National Institutes of Health.

"This phenomenon that we're seeing is Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma or ALCL, it seems to develop in some patients in the scar tissue around the breast implant," Clemens said.

There's only been 23 patients, ever, with this kind of lymphoma at MD Anderson. The problem with that is there's not a lot of women to study, so they don't have a good idea of who's at risk and women don't know to be looking for it.

"It was a late onset swelling, but it was a drastic onset swelling that occurred in a four day period," Hollrah explained that it's not like a lump that would automatically raise a red flag.

"Usually happening years after they receive their breast implant," Dr. Clemens said.

Hollrah is a mother of two. She said she adopted her son after his biological parents both died of cancer, and now has overcome cancer twice within her kids' lives.

She spends her time educating others through fundraisers and her blog, "Just Call Me Ray."

"I feel like I can be a face for other young women out there that maybe reconstruction, there's another option of not doing anything," she said. "There are things you can wear, and again, I struggle but I'm here, I'm thriving ... and my husband always says 'Raylene, the only thing I see missing is cancer.'"

Clemens put the numbers of this cancer into perspective. He said 10 to 15 million women worldwide have breast implants. There have only been 150 cases of this particular lymphoma, ALCL.

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