“Don’t use the word ‘cancer’ – instead use ‘condition’ ”

This was the advice provided by the president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) during a members-only webinar held after the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) release of the latest evidence detailing the risks of anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) among breast implant patients.  According to a transcript obtained by Public Citizen, Dr. Phil Haeck, ASPS president, said of ALCL,

Yes, it’s classically a malignant tumor, but it has such a benign course that when we were discussing ways to talk to the media, we decided that we would call this a condition when we talked to the media – not a tumor, not a disease and certainly not a malignancy … and I would recommend that you use the same terms with your patients rather than disturb them by saying this is a cancer, this is a malignancy.

Members of both ASPS and the Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) were informed of how to spin this issue in the face of  what some are calling “the economic recovery of the plastic surgery industry.” Last year, more than 13 million cosmetic surgeries were performed, up 5 percent according to ASPS. The No. 1 most popular procedure in 2010 was breast augmentation.

Said Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group:

The ASPS and the ASAPS have chosen to ignore the currently available facts from published case reports of breast implant-associated ALCL.

Public Citizen is calling on the FDA to stop this misleading effort to keep women in the dark about the dangers of breast implants.  Read our letter to the FDA.