Journal of

Case Reports and Images in Pathology

  Table of Contents    
Case Report
Bilateral chest wall sarcomas associated with silicone implant capsules in a patient with Li-Fraumeni syndrome
Meenakshi Bansal1, Stephenn Vega2, Gabrielle A. Yeaney3, Xi Wang4
1MD, Resident, Department of Pathology, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY 14642.
2MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Plastic Surgery, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY 14642.
3MD, Assistant professor, Department of Pathology, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY 14642.
4MD, Associate professor, Department of Pathology, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY 14642.

Article ID: 100006Z11MB2016

Address correspondence to:
Xi Wang
Department of Pathology
601 Elmwood Ave
Rochester, NY
U.S.A 14642

Access full text article on other devices

  Access PDF of article on other devices

[HTML Abstract]   [PDF Full Text] [Print This Article]
[Similar article in Pumed] [Similar article in Google Scholar]

How to cite this article:
Bansal M, Vega S, Yeaney GA, Wang Xi. Bilateral chest wall sarcomas associated with silicone implant capsules in a patient with Li-Fraumeni syndrome. J Case Rep Images Pathol 2016;2:6–9.

Introduction: The carcinogenicity of silicone implants has been confirmed in rodents but is not evident in human breast.
Case Report: We report a patient with Li-Fraumeni syndrome who developed bilateral chest wall unclassified sarcomas tightly associated with the capsule of silicone implants placed during treatment for her right breast cancer.
Conclusion: Our case may suggest that genetic instability could increase the probability of carcinogenesis of silicone implants. Caution should be exercised when making management plans for these patients.

Keywords: Breast cancer, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Sarcoma, Silicone implant


The long-term safety of silicone implants has been a particular concern since introduced in the first augmentation mammoplasty in 1962 [1]. Experimental studies have shown its carcinogenicity in rodents [1][2]. However, studies and comprehensive reviews have not supported an association between silicone implants and malignant solid tumors in human breasts. Nevertheless, studies have shown that silicone implants are associated with lymphomas [3][4]. Case reports on silicone implant-related sarcomas are very rare.

Case Report

A 35-year-old female was diagnosed with a clinical stage III (T2 N2 M0) grade 2 invasive ductal carcinoma in her right breast in September 2008 (Figure 1). The carcinoma cells exhibited immunopositivity for ER, PR and Her2. She underwent neoadjuvant chemotherapy, bilateral mastectomy with tissue expander, adjuvant chemotherapy and right chest wall radiation, which were completed in January 2010. Bilateral silicone implants were placed in June 2010. In August 2011, the patient noticed a palpable mass adjacent to her left breast implant. An excisional biopsy showed a 2.0 cm tumor mass associated with the fibrous capsule of the silicone implant. Microscopically, the tumor consisted of pleomorphic spindle cells with pink cytoplasm in a collagen background, without a specific growth pattern. The mitotic rate was very high, including atypical mitosis. Scattered multinucleated giant cells were also present. The tumor cells were intimately mingled with the fibrous capsule of the implant, with focal silicone granulomas, infiltrating through the fibrous capsule into surrounding soft tissue (Figure 2). Immunohistochemical staining showed that the tumor cells were negative for keratin markers (cytokeratin cocktail, CK5/6, p63, CK14 and 34BE12) and vascular markers (CD34 and CD31). A diagnosis of unclassified pleomorphic sarcoma was made after an expert consultation. Ten months thereafter, a follow-up chest CT scan identified a round lesion deep to the right breast implant with interval progression. Local wide excision identified a 3.0 cm spindle cell neoplasm associated with the capsule of the silicone implant. It was morphologically mildly different from the previously diagnosed sarcoma on the left side, being more cellular and pleomorphic. The tumor cells were very focally positive for p63 but negative for cytokeratin cocktail, CK5/6, 34BE12, CD34 and CD31. A diagnosis of high-grade sarcoma was made. The patient underwent a genetic consultation and was negative for BRST gene mutations but positive for a nonsense mutation in the p53 gene (X54156.1:g.12083G-A).

The patient's other personal history included multiple moles removed in the earlier years prior to the breast cancer diagnosis; a total hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy in August 2010 with unremarkable findings; and a pituitary adenoma removed in May 2013. Her family history of cancer was as follows: father with prostate cancer at age 62, paternal grandfather with gastric cancer at age 81, maternal grandfather with leukemia at approximately ~30 years of age, maternal grandmother with melanoma at age 55, and maternal uncle with sarcoma (type not clear) at age 67.

Cursor on image to zoom/Click text to open image
Figure 1: The primary invasive ductal carcinoma, Modified Bloom-Richardson grade II (H&E stain, x100).

Cursor on image to zoom/Click text to open image
Figure 2: Unclassified pleomorphic sarcoma of the left chest wall. (A): Tumor infiltrating through the fibrous capsule and mixed with silicone granulomas (right lower corner, H&E stain, x40), (B): Tumor mixed with silicone granulomas (x100), (C): silicone granuloma (polarized, x100).


Li-Fraumeni syndrome [5] is a rare autosomal-dominant disease characterized by predisposition to a wide range of cancers among family members. In the US, approximately 400 individuals from 64 families have this disorder, according to a US registry of Li-Fraumeni syndrome patients. The malignancies commonly arising in Li-Fraumeni families include breast cancers (25%), soft tissue sarcomas (20%), bone sarcomas (15%), brain tumors (13%), and adrenal gland carcinoma. Leukemia and melanoma are also frequently associated with Li-Fraumeni syndrome. Other carcinomas, such as prostate carcinoma, have also been reported. The history of malignancies for our index patient and her family members clearly fulfill the criteria for Li-Fraumeni syndrome. The germline TP53 mutation further confirmed this diagnosis.

Although soft tissue sarcoma is within the spectrum of the malignancies in Li-Fraumeni syndrome, the presentation of the bilateral chest wall sarcomas in our index patient remains interesting. According to literature, most reported sarcomas in Li-Fraumeni syndrome are childhood sarcomas, such as rhabdomyosarcoma [6]. Further, Hisada et al. quantified the frequency of multiple primary cancers in 200 individuals from 24 Li-Fraumeni kindreds originally diagnosed with cancers during 1968 to 1986 and found that only 15% developed second cancer, 4% developed third cancer and 2% eventually developed fourth cancer [7]. In contrast, our index patient developed two non-childhood sarcomas tightly associated with the silicone implant capsule and silicone granulomas after her primary breast carcinoma, whereas no sarcoma was identified at any other anatomic locations in her body.

Whether silicone implantation predisposes recipients to an increased risk for cancer has been long debated. After certain latent period, solid silicone compound implanted subcutaneously can elicit mesenchymal sarcoma at the implantation site in susceptible rodents through so-called solid-state carcinogenesis [8] [9], with an incidence of approximately 29–40% following the placement of a single implant [10]. In human breast, there has been only one convincing case report of a 55-year-old female who developed "malignant fibrous histiocytoma" after receiving silicone injection augmentation mammoplasty 19 years previously [11]. However, well-designed epidemiologic and experimental studies have not found convincing evidence implicating silicone implantation as a human risk for post-implant sarcoma [12] [13]. The difference in propensity towards sarcomas with silicone implantation between human and rodents might be explained by their contrasting genetic stabilities [14]. Therefore, cancer risk may be increased in the patients with genetic instability syndromes, such as in our index patient. Similar presentation has been reported in a Li-Fraumeni patient who received conservative surgery and radiation for a primary breast carcinoma [15].

Post-radiation breast sarcoma is a well-known complication for women treated with adjuvant radiation for breast cancer. Taghian et al. reported nine cases of radiation-induced sarcomas in 6919 patients treated for breast cancer, with a cumulative incidence 0.2% (0.09–0.47) at 10 years [16]. However, we do not consider radiation as the primary insult for the bilateral sarcomas in our case. First, the left chest wall was not within the irradiated field but developed sarcoma prior to the irradiated side. Second, the short latent time and high incidence rate are very unusual for post-radiation sarcoma. Nevertheless, we believe that the relative higher cellularity and pleomorphism in the right chest wall sarcoma could be related to the radiation effect.

Nervous system neoplasms associated with Li-Fraumeni syndrome are predominantly astrocytomas but also include choroid plexus tumor, medulloblastoma, and others [17]. However, pituitary adenoma has not been reported in this syndrome. The pituitary adenoma in our index patient was a 1.6-cm ACTH-cell-type tumor with some neuronal differentiation by immunohistochemistry. The patient's endocrinologists determined the tumor to be nonfunctional because she had normal cortisol levels and MR imaging and ultrasound indicated no adrenal gland abnormalities. Endocrine system tumors have also been found to have p53 mutations in Li-Fraumeni syndrome [18]. However, pituitary adenoma was not included among these tumors. Currently, whether the pituitary adenoma in our index patient was related to Li-Fraumeni syndrome is unclear.


We report a case with bilateral chest wall sarcomas associated with silicone implant capsules in a Li-Fraumeni patient. Our observations suggest that caution should be exercised when making management plans for individuals with genetic instability syndromes, such as Li-Fraumeni, particularly when considering prophylactic bilateral mastectomies with silicone implants.


Dr. Christopher Fletcher in Brigham and Women's Hospital was consulted and agreed with the diagnosis.

  1. Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on the Safety of Silicone Breast Implants. In: Bondurant S, Ernster VL, Herdman R eds. Safety of Silicone Breast Implants. Washington DC: National Academies Press (US); 1999.    Back to citation no. 1
  2. Morgan RW, Elcock M. Artificial implants and soft tissue sarcomas. J Clin Epidemiol 1995 Apr;48(4):545–9.   [CrossRef]   [Pubmed]    Back to citation no. 2
  3. Bautista-Quach MA, Nademanee A, Weisenburger DD, Chen W, Kim YS. Implant-associated primary anaplastic large-cell lymphoma with simultaneous involvement of bilateral breast capsules. Clin Breast Cancer 2013 Dec;13(6):492–5.   [CrossRef]   [Pubmed]    Back to citation no. 3
  4. Lazzeri D, Agostini T, Bocci G, et al. ALK-1-negative anaplastic large cell lymphoma associated with breast implants: a new clinical entity. Clin Breast Cancer 2011 Oct;11(5):283–96.   [CrossRef]   [Pubmed]    Back to citation no. 4
  5. Li FP, Fraumeni JF Jr. Soft-tissue sarcomas, breast cancer, and other neoplasms. A familial syndrome? Ann Intern Med 1969 Oct;71(4):747–52.   [Pubmed]    Back to citation no. 5
  6. Li FP, Fraumeni JF Jr. Rhabdomyosarcoma in children: epidemiologic study and identification of a familial cancer syndrome. J Natl Cancer Inst 1969 Dec;43(6):1365–73.   [Pubmed]    Back to citation no. 6
  7. Hisada M, Garber JE, Fung CY, Fraumeni JF Jr, Li FP. Multiple primary cancers in families with Li-Fraumeni syndrome. J Natl Cancer Inst 1998 Apr 15;90(8):606–11.   [CrossRef]   [Pubmed]    Back to citation no. 7
  8. Hueper WC. Carcinogenic studies on water-soluble polymers. Pathol Microbiol (Basel) 1961;24:77–106.   [Pubmed]    Back to citation no. 8
  9. Bryson G, Bischoff F. Silicate-induced neoplasms. Prog Exp Tumor Res 1967;9:77–164.   [CrossRef]   [Pubmed]    Back to citation no. 9
  10. Bischoff F. Organic polymer biocompatibility and toxicology. Clin Chem 1972 Sep;18(9):869–9   [Pubmed]    Back to citation no. 10
  11. Kobayashi S, Iwase H, Karamatsu S, Masaoka A, Nakamura T. A case of stromal sarcoma of the breast occurring after augmentation mammaplasty. [Article in Japanese]. Gan No Rinsho 1988 Apr;34(4):467–72.   [Pubmed]    Back to citation no. 11
  12. Engel A, Lamm SH, Lai SH. Human breast sarcoma and human breast implantation: a time trend analysis based on SEER data (1973-1990). J Clin Epidemiol 1995 Apr;48(4):539–44.   [CrossRef]   [Pubmed]    Back to citation no. 12
  13. Brand KG, Brand I. Risk assessment of carcinogenesis at implantation sites. Plast Reconstr Surg 1980 Oct;66(4):591–5.   [CrossRef]   [Pubmed]    Back to citation no. 13
  14. Holliday R. Neoplastic transformation: the contrasting stability of human and mouse cells. Cancer Surv 1996;28:103–15.   [Pubmed]    Back to citation no. 14
  15. Henry E, Villalobos V, Million L, et al. Chest wall leiomyosarcoma after breast-conservative therapy for early-stage breast cancer in a young woman with Li-Fraumeni syndrome. J Natl Compr Canc Netw 2012 Aug;10(8):939–42.   [Pubmed]    Back to citation no. 15
  16. Taghian A, de Vathaire F, Terrier P, et al. Long-term risk of sarcoma following radiation treatment for breast cancer. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 1991 Jul;21(2):361–7   [CrossRef]   [Pubmed]    Back to citation no. 16
  17. Sandberg AA, Stone JF. The genetics and molecular biology of neural tumors. Totowa, NJ: Humana Press; 2008.    Back to citation no. 17
  18. Yao JC, Hoff PM, Hoff AO. Neuroendocrine tumors. Totowa, NJ: Springer; 2010    Back to citation no. 18

[HTML Abstract]   [PDF Full Text]

Author Contributions
Meenakshi Bansal – Substantial contributions to conception and design, Acquisition of data, Analysis and interpretation of data, Drafting the article, Revising it critically for important intellectual content, Final approval of the version to be published
Stephenn Vega – Analysis and interpretation of data, Revising it critically for important intellectual content, Final approval of the version to be published
Gabrielle A. Yeaney – Analysis and interpretation of data, Revising it critically for important intellectual content, Final approval of the version to be published
Xi Wang – Analysis and interpretation of data, Revising it critically for important intellectual content, Final approval of the version to be published
Guarantor of submission
The corresponding author is the guarantor of submission.
Source of support
Conflict of interest
Authors declare no conflict of interest.
© 2016 Meenakshi Bansal et al. This article is distributed under the terms of Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium provided the original author(s) and original publisher are properly credited. Please see the copyright policy on the journal website for more information.

  Terms of Service line Privacy policy line Disclaimer line FAQ line Contact: Journal line Contact: Edorium Journals line Site Map  
  Copyright © 2018. Edorium. All rights reserved.