Implant link to cancer worries breast cancer survivor

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by JASON WHITELY

Bio | Email | Follow: @jasonwhitely

WFAA

Posted on January 27, 2011 at 3:03 AM

Updated Thursday, Jan 27 at 7:15 PM

MCKINNEY - Five years after a brutal bout with breast cancer, doctors declared Debra Atchison cancer-free recently.

"I think 'five years [has passed and now] I'm done," Atchison, 43, said. "But now what do I do?"

It's a question on a lot minds like Atchison's after the FDA warned on Wednesday that breast implants - saline and silicone - might be linked to a rare form of lymphoma.

Atchison was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 37. She survived grueling chemotherapy treatments and got an implant after a mastectomy.

"It's a scary thought," she said. "I've gone through it once. I don't want to go through it again."

Experts said the problem is not with implants themselves but rather the scar tissue which forms around them. That's where the lymphoma is developing.

The FDA is concerned enough to alert women and create a registry to better track the problem.

Researchers, though, believe it is treatable.

"The takeaway is that breast implants are safe," said Dr. Jeffrey Kenkel, UT Southwestern. "They are the most studied medical device in history."

Still, after surviving malignant breast cancer and a benign brain tumor Atchison, understandably, has new questions for her oncologist.

E-mail jwhitely@wfaa.com

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