THURSDAY, Feb. 7, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- There's been an increase in the number of U.S. women diagnosed with a deadly cancer caused by textured breast implants, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday.
The number of women with breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lyphoma (BIA-ALCL) now stands at 457, compared with 414 in the last report, the FDA's Dr. Binita Ashar said in a statement, NBC News reported.
Worldwide, there have been more than 600 documented cases of BIA-ALCL, a cancer of the immune system. There have been 16 deaths, including nine in the United States.
"We hope that this information prompts providers and patients to have important, informed conversations about breast implants and the risk of BIA-ALCL," Ashar said in the statement, NBC News reported.
Most cases have been linked to the textured breast implants, which are used in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery.
In France, regulatory authorities plan to meet Thursday to discuss the safety of textured implants, which account for 85 percent of the French market, NBC News reported.
Late last year, French regulators told Allergan to recall its textured implants after the agency revoked its safety approval.
The FDA first alerted women about the risks from textured breast implants in 2011. The agency said Wednesday, that for the first time, it is sending letters to primary care physicians, gynecologists and other doctors encouraging them to learn more about BIA-ALCL to better diagnose and treat at-risk women, NBC News reported.
Next month, the FDA is meeting to review the safety of all breast implants.
The FDA's decision was welcomed by BIA-ALCL patients trying to increase awareness of the disease.
"Letters to these health care providers, like OB/GYNs, ER Doctors are critical to the diagnosis of this disease. They are some of the first physicians to treat patients symptomatic for BIA-ALCL and these patients are often missed and mistreated for mastitis, shingles and other conditions," Michelle Forney, a California mother of two who was diagnosed with the disease last year, told NBC News.
"This disease is not rare. It's emerging and should not belong in the hands of plastic surgeons," she said.