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Women Raise Awareness About Cancer Linked To Breast Implants

Three women from around North America gathered in Dallas to talk about a rare cancer they got from their breast implants.

It's a kind of lymphoma, detected in just the last ten years and the women hope their story will empower other women to talk with their doctors about their risks.

Terri McGregor of Canada, Jennifer Cook of Georgia and Michelle Forney of California were diagnosed with breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma, BIA-ALCL, a rare kind of cancer with only 195 documented cases in the U.S.

The women found each other on Facebook and meet in person in Dallas to shoot a promotional awareness video about the disease.

According to Dr. Jeffrey Kenkel, Chair of the Department of Plastic Surgery at UT Southwestern, the cancer is tied to textured surface implants, which account for 12 percent of implants used in patients.

He says symptoms, like swelling, typically appear 7 to 8 years after a woman's cosmetic or reconstructive surgery.

"If it's recognized and diagnosed properly, this is a very treatable process, very treatable. It doesn't require that much, doesn't involve chemo, radiation or removal of breast," said Dr. Kenkel, who wrote this blog on the topic last year.

Right now, researchers aren't sure why some women develop cancer from their textured implants.

Many of those women are in a Facebook group where they offer support to each other.

"I read everything and I thought it's just me and I'm a freak of nature.  Every day, we are learning how much that isn't true," said Cook.

"Without meeting them and them getting me to the right medical team and having them as support and guidance, I wouldn't be here. I'd be lost and alone," said Forney, who was diagnosed with cancer 19 years after her breast surgery.

"I had my breast implants put in 19 years ago and had no idea that this could be a possibility from them," said Forney. 

Their video will air on the Plastic Surgery Channel.

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