Cancer risk at sites other than the breast following augmentation mammoplasty

Ann Epidemiol 2001
Brinton LA, Lubin JH, Burich MC, Colton T, Brown SL, Hoover RN.

PURPOSE: There has been limited investigation of cancer risk other than breast cancer among patients with breast implants, despite some clinical and laboratory evidence suggesting links with certain cancer sites, including hematopoietic and connective tissue malignancies. METHODS: A retrospective cohort study of 13,488 patients who received cosmetic breast implants at 18 plastic surgery practices in six geographic areas was conducted to assess long-term health effects. After an average of 12 years of follow-up, questionnaires were administered to subjects located and alive (78% of eligible population). Attempts were made to obtain death certificates for deceased subjects and medical verification for all reported cancers. Expected numbers of cancers were derived using general population cancer incidence rates and an internal comparison series of 3936 patients who received other types of plastic surgery at the same practices as the implant patients.

RESULTS: A total of 359 malignancies was observed versus 295.95 expected based on general population rates, resulting in a standardized incidence ratio (SIR) of 1.21 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.1-1.4]. Individual malignancies for which incidence was significantly elevated included cancers of the stomach (SIR = 2.65), cervix (SIR = 3.18), vulva (SIR = 2.51), brain (SIR = 2.16), and leukemia (SIR = 2.19). No excess risks were observed for other hematopoietic malignancies, including multiple myeloma. The internal analyses, however, based on cancer rates derived among the comparison patients, showed no increased cancer risk among the implant patients [relative risk (RR) = 1.00, 95% CI 0.8-1.2], as well as no statistically significant elevations for most individual sites. Cervical cancer continued to be elevated (RR = 1.78), although to a lesser extent than in the external analyses, while the risk for respiratory cancers was higher (RR = 2.40). Non-significant elevations in risk persisted in this analysis for liver cancer (RR = 2.65), brain cancer (RR = 2.83), and leukemia (RR = 1.83). Many of the cancers showing excesses were defined on the basis of death certificates, requiring caution in interpretation. The histologies of the leukemias were quite varied, which makes a biologic relationship appear unlikely. However, respiratory cancers showed some evidence of increasing risk with follow-up time and both respiratory and brain cancers were elevated in the mortality analyses.

CONCLUSIONS: Although excesses of cervical and vulvar cancer among implant patients might be attributable to lifestyle factors, reasons for excesses of respiratory and brain cancers were less apparent.

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