By Dr. Kelly Kileen
In the past 2 years, there has been a lot of news coverage about breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL). This disease is not breast cancer, but a type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma associated with breast implants.
The risk of developing this cancer if you have textured breast implants is one in 3,817 to one in 30,000. Since 2011, there have been 457 confirmed cases in the US, according to the Food and Drug Administration. There are more cases reported in Australia; the implants available in Australia are different from those sold in the United States.
All confirmed cases were associated with textured implants. All implant makers have been implicated other than Sientra. This is likely because Sientra implants have not been on the market long enough as this disease typically presents 7-10 years after surgery.
About 400,000 women get breast implants each year and about one in 10 has textured implants. There have been 17 deaths worldwide, all were associated with incomplete surgical treatment, and most were delayed in diagnosis.
On July 24, 2019, Allergan has pulled their Biocell textured implants and tissue expanders from the worldwide market. This type of textured implants has shown the highest rates of ALCL,
Both Dr. Cassileth and Dr. Killeen have stopped using textured implants in their practice. Although these implants have benefits in certain patients, we became concerned about the increasing number of cases and unclear etiology of this rare cancer.
*The above statistics are from the 2/6/2019 FDA update on BIA-ALCL. There have been reports of an increased death rate of 33 patients that have not been confirmed.
If You Have Breast Implants:
Per the FDA there is no need to change your medical care.
See your doctor if you experience a sudden increase in breast size more than 1 year following surgery.
If this happens patients should see their surgeon ASAP to obtain a fluid sample for testing.
The treatment for ALCL is the removal of the implant and the surrounding scar tissue. If the disease has progressed to the lymph nodes, chemotherapy is typically recommended.
If your doctor thinks you may have ALCL, they should perform a screening test, called CD30.