A tragic case study of a middle-aged woman who died after receiving gluteal implants is prompting concerns that we might need to look beyond the breasts when it comes to an implant-triggered form of blood cancer.
Until now, the focus has been on breast augmentation as a potential cause of anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL). With news of the woman's passing, other forms of plastic surgery might now warrant closer study.
It's only been a few weeks since the US Food and Drug Administration issued a statement on the possible risk of developing ALCL in conjunction with receiving breast implants, especially those of a textured variety.
Since 2010, 457 cases of the white blood cell cancer had been confirmed in women who had received breast implants in recent years. Of those, nine have since passed away.
Now we can add a single case of ALCL developing in a patient who had received a similar textured implant in another part of their body.
A 49-year-old woman was diagnosed with the condition a year after she received two textured gluteal implants in a routine plastic surgery operation. Her condition continued to deteriorate in spite of chemotherapy and antibiotic treatments.
Several months after she initially sought help, the patient died as a result of renal and respiratory failure.
Of course, a single example isn't quite a smoking gun. While there were numerous pathological clues associating the cancer with the implant, it's impossible to draw a clear link. Especially given the unusually aggressive nature of this particular case.
But in light of growing evidence that the material just might be responsible for elevating the risk of a potentially deadly disease when inserted over the chest, this latest news is more than enough to raise some eyebrows.
ALCL comes in several forms, but they all involve aberrant white blood cells growing out of control.
It's not a common cancer, arising in fewer than 10 out of every 100,000 people. Among those who get implants the risk jumps to as high as possibly 1 in every 1,000, though could also be as few as 1 in 30,000.
Clearly research on any relationship is still in its early days. Knowing there is a potential for ALCL to develop following buttock implants might at least point researchers into new directions in their hunt for evidence.
This research was published in Aesthetic Surgery Journal.