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The Relationship of Silicone Breast Implants and Cancer at Other Sites

Brinton, Louise A. Ph.D.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: December 2007 - Volume 120 - Issue 7 - p 94S-102S
doi: 10.1097/01.prs.0000286573.72187.6e

Background: Although most attention regarding the effects of silicone breast implants on cancer risk has focused on breast cancer, there have also been concerns regarding effects on other cancers. This includes malignancies that could occur as a result of foreign-body carcinogenesis (sarcomas) or immune alterations (hematopoietic malignancies), or cancers suggested as possibly elevated on the basis of previous epidemiologic studies (cancers of the cervix, vulva, lung, and brain).

Methods: Searches of the English language literature on the topic of silicone breast implants and cancer risk were conducted and reviewed to determine relationships that might have etiologic relevance.

Results: Epidemiologic studies provide no support for an increased risk of either sarcoma or multiple myeloma among breast implant recipients, disputing clinical and laboratory findings suggesting such a link. Although a number of epidemiologic studies have demonstrated elevated risks of cervical, vulvar, and lung cancers among breast implant patients, it is likely that these excesses relate more to lifestyle characteristics (e.g., cigarette smoking, sexual behavior) than to the effects of the implants. Brain cancer excesses, suggested in one study, have not been confirmed in either an update of the mortality experience in this study or on the basis of other investigations.

Conclusions: At present, there is no convincing evidence that breast implants alter the risk of nonbreast malignancies. Breast implant patients should continue to be monitored for longer term risks and to assess whether cancer risk is influenced by various patient and implant characteristics.

Rockville, Md.

From the Hormonal and Reproductive Epidemiology Branch, National Cancer Institute.

Disclosure:Dr. Brinton has no conflicts of interest with respect to anything mentioned in this article.

Received for publication February 15, 2007; accepted June 7, 2007.

Louise A. Brinton, Ph.D., Hormonal and Reproductive Epidemiology Branch, National Cancer Institute, 6120 Executive Boulevard, Suite 550, Room 5018, Rockville, Md. 20852-7234,

©2007American Society of Plastic Surgeons