In just one recent year, there were 313,735 breast augmentation surgeries performed in the U.S., according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. With so many women opting to have implants placed in their bodies, it’s imperative that these devices don’t cause any harm to women who receive them. Otherwise, thousands of women could be at risk.

Unfortunately, there’s increasing evidence showing that many women may be suffering as a result of complications from breast implants. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that as of Jan. 5, 2020, it had received 733 reports of breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL), a type of cancer of the immune system. As the FDA and other official entities have noted, there may be many more undiagnosed cases of BIA-ALCL due to a lack of good data regarding worldwide breast implant sales.

If you’ve been diagnosed with BIA-ALCL or another type of cancer after having breast implant surgery, you should speak to a lawyer immediately. The breast implant cancer attorneys at Ward Black Law are known throughout North Carolina for their commitment to their clients and their strong track record of results. U.S. News & World Report even named founding attorney Janet Ward Black as its 2020 “Lawyer of the Year” for personal injury cases in North Carolina’s Triad region. 

To learn if we can help you free of charge, call or text us at 800-531-9191 or visit our contact page.

Do Breast Implants Cause Cancer?

While researchers and health officials are still investigating the exact causes of BIA-ALCL, the early evidence suggests that breast implants do cause cancer in some women. As of January 2020, the FDA had received more than 700 reports of women developing BIA-ALCL after having breast implant surgery. However, the first public report from the FDA about a possible link between breast implants and cancer came in 2011. It wasn’t until 2019 that FDA officials issued a voluntary recall of certain kinds of breast implants.

It’s important to note that, according to the FDA and other experts, BIA-ALCL is not the same as breast cancer. Anaplastic large cell lymphoma is a cancer of the immune system that causes abnormal growth in T-cells, a type of cell that helps the body respond to diseases. In patients who have BIA-ALCL, the cancerous cells are found in the fluid around the breast implant and the scar tissue near the implant. In breast cancer patients, the cancerous cells are found within the breast itself.

So far, instances of BIA-ALCL seem relatively rare. This may be why the FDA has only issued a voluntary recall of certain breast implants and has not advised doctors to remove implants from patients who already have them. But more time and research may show that BIA-ALCL is more widespread than early evidence indicates.

How Can Breast Implants Cause Cancer?

At this point, research indicates that BIA-ALCL is mostly found in patients with certain types of implants. Specifically, the primary culprit seems to be textured implants made by Allergan, a large pharmaceutical company based in Ireland. 

Researchers think that the textured nature of the implants may cause an immune response in the body that, over time, can lead to cancer. However, some patients who had smooth (meaning not-textured) implants have also developed BIA-ALCL, so anyone who has had breast implant surgery should be wary of new symptoms that may indicate they have the disease.

The FDA and other officials have said that, in most cases, the cancerous cells in patients with BIA-ALCL stay in the fluid surrounding the implant and nearby scar tissue. But the cancerous cells can sometimes spread to other parts of the body, making it harder to treat the disease and placing patients at greater risk.

Like breast cancer, BIA-ALCL is treatable and often curable, especially if it’s detected early. BIA-ALCL patients can undergo surgery to remove the implant and the cancerous scar tissue, which often leads to a cessation of symptoms. 

If the cancerous cells spread to other parts of the body, though, radiation therapy or chemotherapy may be required. In these cases, success isn’t quite as assured. If you’ve had breast implant surgery, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the surgery site and have regular check-ups with your doctor to make sure nothing is amiss.

Early research does not indicate that the fluid within the implant itself, such as saline or silicone, impacts the risk of someone contracting BIA-ALCL after having implant surgery, though, according to the FDA, this has not yet been evaluated in a large, epidemiologic study. 

If you see your doctor and they suspect you may have BIA-ALCL, they will collect some fluid from your breast to determine whether you have the disease. Other tests or procedures that may be used to evaluate a BIA-ALCL diagnosis include X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, ultrasound imaging, and PET scans.

Common Symptoms of Cancer Due to Breast Implants

According to FDA officials and other health experts, some of the common signs and symptoms of BIA-ALCL include:

  • Persistent swelling of one or both breasts
  • A mass in the breast near the site of the implant surgery
  • Pain in the area of the breast implant
  • Fluid build-up around the implant
  • Thick scar tissue building up around the implant
  • Asymmetry in the breasts
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite

If you notice any of these symptoms, especially if they last for a long time, see your doctor as soon as possible. Early detection and treatment are key to improving your chances of a full recovery if you’re diagnosed with BIA-ALCL.

Can I Get Compensation If I Get Cancer from Breast Implants?

If you’ve been diagnosed with BIA-ALCL you may be owed compensation. These types of claims fall under the category of defective products. Ward Black Law has many years of experience helping breast implant patients.

There are three ways in which a medical device can be considered defective:

  • Design defects – This is when something about the design of a product makes it dangerous in some way.
  • Manufacturing defects – This is when something about the manufacturing process of a product deviates from the design of it, meaning it does not work as it was intended. 
  • Marketing defects – This is when something is wrong with the marketing or advertising surrounding a product. With medical devices, marketing defect claims usually center on whether users of the device were adequately warned about the risks involved in it’s use.

When it comes to breast implant cancer lawsuits, our attorneys can help you determine which of these types of defects may apply to your case. For example, because textured implants appear to cause a greater risk of contracting BIA-ALCL compared to smooth implants, it could be argued that there’s a design defect inherent in textured implants. Also, because the FDA only changed the warning labels on breast implants relatively recently, it could also be argued that there’s a marketing defect with breast implants because consumers were not given adequate knowledge of the risks involved with them.

If you choose to make a claim or file a lawsuit after a BIA-ALCL diagnosis, you could potentially receive compensation for:

  • Past and future medical bills related to treatment for your illness
  • Lost wages if you had to miss work due to your illness
  • Damages for the physical pain and suffering you’ve endured
  • Damages for any mental anguish you’ve suffered
  • Punitive damages to punish an implant’s manufacturer for negligent behavior

Contact a Breast Implant Cancer Lawyer at Ward Black Law Today for Help

The makers of the breast implants that are causing cancer in women need to be held accountable for their actions. If you’re one of the numerous women who has developed cancer following your breast implant surgery, the breast implant cancer lawyers at Ward Black Law want to hear from you. 

With our experience and dedication, we can help you heal and move on from this painful chapter in your life. Our personal injury attorneys are professional, courteous, and fully committed to helping you find justice for your injuries. Our breast implant claim team of lawyers and paralegals has handled breast implant cases for more than 1200 women over the last 20 years.

North Carolina’s statute of limitations on personal injury claims normally gives you three years to file a claim or lawsuit for your injuries. You have a limited window to recover compensation, and it’s best to get started right away. 

You can learn if we can help confidentially and at no charge to you. Call or text us at 800-531-9191 or visit our contact page.