What is Breast Implant Associated-Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma or BIA-ALCL?
BIA-ALCL is a distinct form of lymphoma that affects the scar tissue or fluid that can surround a breast implant, not in the breast tissue itself.
IS THIS A FORM OF BREAST CANCER?
No, this is not breast cancer. This is a rare form of lymphoma or a cancer of the immune system that originates in the blood and that can occur in any part of the body.
WHEN DOES BIA-ALCL OCCUR?
Most research suggest that BIA-ALCL occurs approximately eight years after having either cosmetic or breast reconstructive surgery using breast implants.
ARE CERTAIN BREAST IMPLANTS AFFECTED MORE THAN OTHERS?
Almost all cases to date have been in textured implants and not smooth implants. There appears to be little difference in how often this occurs between breast implant manufacturers.
HOW COMMON IS BIA-ALCL?
There are varying statistics around the world regarding how common BIA-ALCL is. Assuming that the average breast implant can last about 16 years, the lifetime risk is about 1 in 30,000 women with breast implants. To date, there have been 258 possible cases reported to the FDA.
HOW DOES BIA-ALCL PRESENT?
BIA-ALCL usually presents about eight years post breast implant surgery. The most common presenting sign is swelling of one breast or what is known as a seroma that leads to asymmetry (one breast different in size/shape from the other breast). There can also be associated pain in the breast and/or small lumps.
Is BIA-ALCL more common in silicone or saline implants?
BIA-ALCL has been reported in both saline and silicone implants—it appears to be related more to the texturing of the shell of the implant than whether it is made of silicone or saline.
What should I do if I think I have BIA-ALCL?
You should consult with your surgeon if you are worried. In most cases, the first step is an ultrasound of the breast to look for fluid. This fluid is then tested for ALCL.
Should I just remove my breast implants?
To date, this condition is still thought to be very rare. Health Canada and the FDA do not recommend removing breast implants prophylactically.
Is this condition treatable?
Current literature suggests that if detected early, the condition can be treated by fully removing the capsule (scar tissue) that forms around the breast implant. However, you should seek care from someone knowledgeable in this area.
About the Author
Dr. Sean Rice, B.A.(Hons), M.D.,M.Sc.,F.R.C.S.C., is a renowned plastic and cosmetic surgeon, a leading authority on age management and is widely recognized for his published articles in Canadian and international medical journals. Dr. Rice is frequently called upon to share his expertise as he trains other surgeons in cutting-edge techniques as well being invited to […]Read Bio Read Posts