The Who, What, Where, When and Sometimes, Why.

Breast implants and breast cancer risk

This summary table contains detailed information about research studies. Summary tables are a useful way to look at the science behind many breast cancer guidelines and recommendations. However, to get the most out of the tables, it’s important to understand some key concepts. Learn how to read a research table.

Introduction: Neither saline nor silicone breast implants appear to increase breast cancer risk. A meta-analysis that combined the results from 10 studies found no increase in breast cancer risk among women with breast implants [1].

A few studies in the table below found a lower risk of breast cancer among women with implants. However, this is likely due to traits of women who tend to choose breast implants (such as being lean), rather than the implants themselves [2]. 

Learn more about breast implants and breast cancer risk.

Breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma

Anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) is a very rare cancer of the cells of the immune system [3-5]. When ALCL occurs in women with breast implants it’s called breast implant-associated ALCL (BIA-ALCL). BIA-ALCL is treatable.

Estimates of the risk of BIA-ALCL occurring in women with breast implants vary widely from 1 in 3,817 to 1 in 30,000 [3]. These estimates are based on confirmed cases known at this time [3].

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is studying the link between breast implants (both saline and silicone) and a slight increased risk of BIA-ALCL [3].

Although the reasons are unclear at this time, the risk of BIA-ALCL appears to be linked to textured breast implants rather than smooth implants [3-6].

Talk with your health care provider about the benefits and risks of textured implants and smooth implants.

Let your provider know if you notice any changes to your implant(s) or any pain in the area.

Learn about the strengths and weaknesses of different types of studies.

See how this risk factor compares with other risk factors for breast cancer.

Study selection criteria: Prospective cohort studies with at least 40 breast cancer cases and meta-analyses.

Table note: The standardized incidence ratios below compare the incidence of breast cancer among women with breast implants to incidence in the general population.

A standardized incidence ratio above 1 shows an increased risk among women with breast implants. A standardized incidence ratio below 1 shows a decreased risk.

Study

Study Population
(number of women with breast implants)

Follow-up
(years)

Higher Risk of Developing Breast Cancer for Women with Breast Implants?

Yes/No

Standardized Incidence Ratio

Prospective cohort studies

Pan et al. [7]

24,558
(1,521 cases)

24

No

0.54
(0.49-0.59) 

Lipworth et al. [8]

6,222
(84 cases)

17

No

0.73
(0.53-0.90)

McLaughlin et al. [9]

3,486
(53 cases)

18

No

0.7
(0.6-1.0)

Bryant and Brasher [10]

10,835
(45 cases)

10

No

0.68
(0.32-1.25)

Deapen et al. [11]

3,139
(43 cases)

16

No

0.69
(0.50-0.93)

Meta-analyses

Howshaw et al. [1]

10 studies

 

No

0.72
(0.61-0.85)

Noels et al. [12]

6 studies

 

No

0.69
(0.56-0.85)

Balk et al. [13] 

6 studies

 

No

0.76
(0.64-0.91)

References  

  1. Hoshaw SJ, Klein PJ, Clark BD, Cook RR, Perkins LL. Breast implants and cancer: causation, delayed detection, and survival. Plast Reconstr Surg. 107(6):1393-407, 2001.
  2. Brinton LA, Brown SL, Colton T, et al. Characteristics of a population of women with breast implants compared with women seeking other types of plastic surgery. Plast Reconstr Surg. 105(3):919-27, 2000.  
  3. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL). https://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/ImplantsandProsthetics/BreastImplants/ucm239995.htm, 2019.
  4. Gidengil CA, Predmore Z, Mattke S, van Busum K, Kim B. Breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma: a systematic review. Plast Reconstr Surg. 135(3):713-20, 2015.
  5. Leberfinger AN, Behar BJ, Williams NC, et al. Breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma: a systematic review. JAMA Surg. 152(12):1161-1168, 2017.
  6. de Boer M, van Leeuwen FE, Hauptmann M, et al. Breast implants and the risk of anaplastic large-cell lymphoma in the breast. JAMA Oncol. 4(3):335-341, 2018.
  7. Pan SY, Lavigne E, Holowaty EJ, et al. Canadian breast implant cohort: extended follow-up of cancer incidence. Int J Cancer. 131(7):E1148-57, 2012.
  8. Lipworth L, Tarone RE, Friis S, et al. Cancer among Scandinavian women with cosmetic breast implants: a pooled long-term follow-up study. Int J Cancer. 124(2):490-3, 2009.
  9. McLaughlin JK, Lipworth L, Fryzek JP, Ye W, Tarone RE, Nyren O. Long-term cancer risk among Swedish women with cosmetic breast implants: an update of a nationwide study. J Natl Cancer Inst. 19;98(8):557-60, 2006.
  10. Bryant H, Brasher P. Breast implants and breast cancer–reanalysis of a linkage study. N Engl J Med. 332(23):1535-9, 1995.
  11. Deapen DM, Hirsch EM, Brody GS. Cancer risk among Los Angeles women with cosmetic breast implants. Plast Reconstr Surg. 119(7):1987-92, 2007. 
  12. Noels EC, Lapid O, Lindeman JH, Bastiaannet E. Breast implants and the risk of breast cancer: a meta-analysis of cohort studies. Aesthet Surg J. 35(1):55-62, 2015.
  13. Balk EM, Earley A, Avendano EA, Raman G. Long-term health outcomes in women with silicone gel breast implants: a systematic review. Ann Intern Med. 164(3):164-75, 2016.

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