There has been a lot of recent media attention regarding the risk of a certain type of cancer associated with breast implants, known as Breast Implant Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL).
What is BIA-ALCL?
BIA- ALCL is not breast cancer. Rather, it is a rare type of lymphoma that has been predominately found in women with textured (as opposed to smooth) silicone breast implants. The FDA estimates that there are 5 million to 10 million women worldwide who have breast implants. As of November 2018, there have been 626 confirmed cases of BIA-ALCL reported worldwide. If you are unsure if you have a smooth or textured breast implant, ask your plastic surgeon.
How is it diagnosed?
Asymptomatic women without breast changes do not require more than routine mammograms and breast exams. The most common symptom reported is usually swelling of the breast, often caused by fluid building around the implant. Other symptoms include pain, lumps, and asymmetry between breasts. The fluid may be seen on ultrasound and a sample can be tested in a laboratory to confirm the diagnosis.
How is BIA-ALCL treated?
The recommended treatment is removal of the breast implant and the surrounding scar tissue layer, or capsule. Additional treatment may be necessary.
Should I have my implants removed because of BIA-ALCL?
Currently, neither the FDA nor any Plastic Surgery society recommends that women should preventatively remove textured breast implants to prevent BIA-ALCL. This is not a disease of breast tissue, rather it is related to the texturing of the implant device. Case reports of the same disease have recently been described in textured gluteal implants. However, there are women who have been concerned enough about BIA-ALCL and have chosen to have their implants removed. There are some women who were already considering a breast implant revision, and the BIA-ALCL issue gave them one more reason to decide to proceed.
Where can I find additional information and resources about BIA-ALCL?
For the most up-to-date information regarding this condition, I suggest visiting the following websites: