Extremely Rare Form of Cancer Linked to Some Breast Implants

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b2ap3_thumbnail_breast-implant.jpgA recent report by the Food and Drug Administration has once again confirmed a link between certain breast implants and an extremely rare form of cancer called BIA-ALCL, or anaplastic large cell lymphoma. In light of this new report, doctors like Henderson, Nevada plastic surgeon Dr. Ryan Mitchell are ramping up their efforts to warn patients about this uncommon disease, which is now estimated to affect 1 in 300,000 women. 

When most women consider getting breast implants, they are aware that their implants carry a certain level of risk. Though not common, any type of surgery or implant can have complications. But now some patients have a new risk to consider- the non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma known as BIA-ALCL. Though his extremely rare t-cell lymphoma has only affected 359 people since its discovery in 2011, it still poses enough of a risk that surgeons like Mitchell are bringing it up to patients considering breast augmentation.

"Though BIA-ALCL is extremely rare, it is being found in an increasing number of patients with textured breast implants,"  Mitchell said. "According to the FDA, of the 231 reported cases of BIA-ALCL that included information about the texture of the implants, 203 were textured, while only 28 were smooth." 

Textured implants are not as commonly used in the US as they are in other countries, but there are still some US-based surgeons who use them. In light of these new findings, however- that could change. 

"As more patients become aware of the increased risks of BIA-ALCL in those with textured implants, I suspect more women will opt for smooth implants," Mitchell said. 

So, what should patients with breast implants be looking for when it comes to BIA-ALCL? 

"If you notice any signs of hardening or a mass around the outside of the implant, fluid buildup, swelling, redness or any other changes to the tissue surrounding the implant itself, notify your doctor immediately," Mitchell said. "We also suggest patients with implants do regular self-breast exams and get regular mammograms and MRI’s to keep tabs on the health of the breast, and the condition of the implant."

As for the dangers of BIA-ALCL, Mitchell offers plenty of hope "If you have implants, don’t panic – just remember to be proactive about your health. This disease is extremely rare, and very survivable. In fact, of the 359 reported cases, only 11 were fatal. From what we are understanding, early detection has an excellent prognosis."

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