Breast augmentation was the most commonly performed cosmetic surgical procedure in the US last year, with around 290,000 women receiving either silicone or saline breast implants. Although extremely rare, some patients who have had this procedure develop a blood cancer called anaplastic large cell lymphoma. Now, a new study has shed light on why this is.

Anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) is a rare type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), responsible for around 3% of NHLs. ALCL typically appears in the skin, lymph nodes, liver and soft tissue. On rare occasions, however, the cancer has appeared in the breast, and according to this latest research – led by Dr. Suzanne Turner of the University of Cambridge in the UK – almost all cases of breast ALCL have occurred in patients who have had breast augmentation, with the tumors always developing in the scar tissue surrounding the implant.

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