Breast implants associated with rare type of lymphoma
For those of you who already have breast implants or are considering reconstruction using them, you may not have heard yet that breast implants have been associated with a rare form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma called anaplastic large cell lymphoma, or ALCL. ALCL is usually found in the scar tissue and fluid near the implant and can usually be remedied by removing the implant, but in some cases can spread throughout the body.

The risk of a person with implants developing ALCL is very low , but exactly how low is far from clear, with reports varying from 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 30,000. What is clear, is that textured implants are more of a concern than smooth implants and that concern reached the point that Allergan's Microcell and Biocell textured breast implants were banned in Europe last December.

As of March this year, spokespersons for our health departments in Quebec and Nova Scotia started contacting women with textured implants and other provinces urged physicians to inform and monitor their patients who have them. Today, the Toronto Star reported that Health Canada has also moved to ban Allergan textured implants.

So, what now? Currently, removal of implants for those who have no symptoms is not advised by Health Canada . However, they are suggesting the following:

If you have breast implants
  • Conduct regular breast self-exams and see your healthcare professional for periodic follow-up.
  • Consult a healthcare professional if you experience unusual changes to your breasts, including breast pain, sudden swelling, or a lump.
  • Note that removal of your breast implants, even if you do not have any signs or symptoms suggesting ALCL, is an option best discussed between you and your healthcare professional.

If you are considering getting breast implants
  • If you are considering getting breast implants, you are encouraged to get more information and to discuss the risks and benefits with a healthcare professional.
  • You can find information by visiting the breast implant section on

Join one of our new RISKY GENES facebook groups!

Large social media sites are great, but can make it difficult to really feel a personal connection. In response, we launched several risky genes Facebook groups at the local level.  If you live in one of the regions shown here, there are other risky gene carriers waiting to meet you!

Start a RISKY GENES facebook group in your own community

We are looking for volunteers to help administer new groups in other communities across Canada.  If you would like to get involved, please contact us .

An easy way to give back

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Too many risky gene carriers have told us they believe if they haven't developed hereditary cancer by a certain age it is less likely they will develop it at all. This is NOT true. Hereditary cancer risk, as with all cancer risk, INCREASES with age.

Are ancestry services a good choice to test for risky genes ?

You get what you pay for. Some low-priced ancestry services now offer health services as an add-on, but they are far from comprehensive.

No! Ancestry services do not search for all mutation possibilities!

When searching for an online genetic testing service it is important to do your homework because all tests are not created equal. For example, My23andme only tests for three BRCA mutations, usually found in those with Ashkenazi Jewish heritage . Too often, people who order this test and return a negative result incorrectly assume they are in the clear.

Today, there are over twenty genes that fall under HBOC syndrome and thousands of different mutations are possible within those genes. To ensure the service you choose has the best coverage, use a dedicated health genetic testing service that uses a full gene panel and provides counselling to interpret the results.  A good option is Color Genomics .

Study finds genetic risks associated with prostate cancer are underestimated

According to a large study by researchers from Tulane University School of Medicine and genetics firm Invitae, more than 17% of all prostate cancer cases are as a result of an inherited mutation. Of those identified to carry an inherited gene mutation that caused their prostate cancer, almost 31 percent were due to mutations in the BRCA1/2 genes.

Previous research has shown that approximately 12 percent of men with certain genetic variants have an increased risk of developing prostate cancer and may also be at risk for more aggressive forms of the disease. Relatives of men with these variants can also be at increased risk for other cancer types including breast, ovarian , pancreatic, uterine and/or colon cancers.
Family history isn't everything
The prostate cancer study discussed above also found that over 37% of those found to carry inherited gene mutations would not have qualified for genetic testing under the current family history criteria. This backs up previous studies that showed about 50% of the study group who had hereditary breast cancer also did not fit the criteria.

Is there hope for our children?

Yes! The more we speak out, the more resources will be allocated to hereditary cancer. The harder we push for funding, the sooner there will be better prevention options. The more connected we are, the more strength we have in our advocacy efforts. The more we share our stories, the more we can draw understanding and support for our plight. The harder we fight, the better the future. 

Upcoming events of interest to the risky genes community