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Rick Linforth Consultant Breast Surgeon
MD FRCS (Eng,ED) FRCS (Gen Surg)
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Breast Implant Associated -Anaplastic Large cell Lymphoma ( BIA-ALCL)
This is a rare condition in the media linked to a common type of textured breast implant.
What is BIA-ALCL?
BIA-ALCL is not breast cancer—it is a type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (cancer of the immune system). In most cases, BIA-ALCL is found in the scar tissue and fluid near the implant, but in some cases, it can spread throughout the body.
What is the likelihood of developing BIA-ALCL?
At this time, the likelihood of developing BIA-ALCL is thought to be low, occurring in less than 0.03% of patients with BIOCELL® textured breast implants. However, BIA-ALCL is a serious condition and can lead to death, especially if not diagnosed early or treated promptly.
What are the symptoms of BIA-ALCL?
BIA-ALCL symptoms include breast enlargement or hardening, persistent pain, lump in the breast or armpit, or a large fluid collection surrounding an implant. These symptoms have been reported between 6 months and 26 years after implant placement, and are typically diagnosed an average of 7 to 9 years after implant placement.
BIA-ALCL is highly curable if detected early. Prompt diagnosis is key.
How is BIA-ALCL treated?
In most patients, BIA-ALCL is treated successfully with surgery to remove the implant and the scar tissue surrounding the implant. However, a BIA-ALCL diagnosis is serious. Some patients may require additional treatment with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy.
What do I need to do if I have BIOCELL® textured breast implants or tissue expanders (Allergan/Naturelle textured implants)
Patients with Allergan BIOCELL® breast implants or tissue expanders should be aware of the following important recommendations from the FDA:
If you have no symptoms, the FDA does not recommend the removal of these or other types of breast implants due to the low risk of developing BIA-ALCL. However, if you have any questions, talk to a Breast or Plastic Surgeon.
Know the symptoms of BIA-ALCL and monitor the area around your breast implants for any changes.
If you have symptoms, notice anything of concern about your breasts or suspect anything may be wrong with your implants or expanders, please speak to your Surgical team
Evaluation for BIA-ALCL typically involves a physical exam and assessment of the fluid and/or tissue around the breast implant. It is important to undergo an evaluation to diagnose BIA-ALCL since a confirmed BIA-ALCL diagnosis may change the type of operation that should be performed.
Based on discussions with your healthcare provider, patients with confirmed BIA-ALCL should undergo implant removal and removal of the surrounding scar capsule, which is a more extensive operation than implant removal alone.
As with any implanted device, it is good to keep a record of the device manufacturer, unique device identifier, and implant model name. You may have received this information on a patient device card from your surgeon. If you would like to obtain any of this information, consider asking your surgeon or obtaining the record of your surgery (operative notes) from the facility where it was performed.
Understand that most cases of BIA-ALCL occur many years after breast implant placement.
The most common implant associated with this disease is an Allergan Textured implant.
If you have one of these implants and have no symptoms of breast disease or swelling, then you do not need to do anything further.
These implants do not need removing unless there is a problem with your breast.
If you are concerned then please see your General Practitioner and asked to be referred to a Breast or Plastic Surgeon.