Everything You Need to Know About BIA-ALCL

When electing to get breast implants for any reason, getting sick from the implants themselves may not have crossed your mind. How could a silicone sack possibly lead to cancer? Unfortunately, the discovery of breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) has come as a shock to some women who have implants.

On a positive note, some of the best doctors in the world are working together to learn why BIA-ALCL occurs and how to prevent the lymphoma from affecting more women. In fact, a collaborative effort between the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration provides biannual updates on disease developments, government regulatory communications, and consensus recommendations on BIA-ALCL. Use this blog as a guide to everything you need to know about BIA-ALCL. 

At Brooks Plastic Surgery. Christopher Brooks, MD, and the rest of our team are ready to help you with any aesthetic needs. In addition to his expertise in cosmetic surgery, Dr. Brooks is also a craniofacial surgical specialist and a pediatric plastic surgeon. If you think you may be experiencing symptoms of BIA-ALCL, schedule an appointment as soon as possible.

What is BIA-ALCL?

Breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma is a rare but highly treatable form of T-cell lymphoma that can develop around breast implants. The key word here is “around” — it is not a cancer of the breast tissue itself and is totally different from more common breast cancer.

Who is at risk?

BIA-ALCL does not occur with all breast implants. Women with textured implants are more likely to develop the cancer overall, but women with smooth-surfaced implants have been affected as well.

Regardless of your implant type, the odds of you developing BIA-ALCL are extremely low. The FDA estimates that the lifetime risk of developing BIA-ALCL ranges from one in 1,000 to one in 30,000 for textured implants. For context, less than 12% of the approximately 300,000 breast augmentations and 150,000 breast reconstructions performed in the United States every year involve textured implants.

Do you need to worry?

You should certainly be aware of BIA-ALCL — whether you’re considering breast augmentation or you’ve had implants for years — but you shouldn’t be concerned unless you’re experiencing symptoms, which include: 

Visit Brooks Plastic Surgery for testing if you notice any of these symptoms. Dr. Brooks can perform the necessary examination and diagnostic tests and guide you in the next steps.

Treating BIA-ALCL

When BIA-ALCL is caught early and is only around the implant, your doctor performs surgery to remove the breast implant and the scar capsule around it. A PET/CT scan can determine if the lymphoma has spread beyond the implant. Doctors typically recommend chemotherapy for women when their ALCL has metastasized. Recurrence is uncommon after the implant and scar tissue are removed. 

If you think you may have BIA-ALCL, don’t panic. Dr. Brooks can diagnose the lymphoma and work with you to treat this disease. Call or request an appointment at our Hollywood, Florida, office today.

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