Breast Cancer Awareness Month is an opportunity to highlight a rare lymphoma that starts around breast implants – breast implant associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL).
Breast implants are inserted for cosmetic reasons or as part of breast reconstruction after cancer surgery. Around a million breast implants have been used in the UK. Up to September 2019, there have been 61 confirmed cases of BIA-ALCL reported to the MHRA.
While we understand the concerns some people may have, this cancer remains very rare. We currently estimate there might be one case of BIA-ALCL for every 24,000 breast implants in the UK.
For this reason, and the risks which can happen with any surgery, experts across the world agree there is no need for people with breast implants to have them removed, where there are no diagnosed implant related symptoms.
The signs and symptoms usually appear while the cancer is at an early stage. The most common sign of BIA-ALCL is a noticeable swelling of the breast with or without a breast lump at least six months after the breast implant surgery. Most cases have happened years after surgery.
For most people BIA-ALCL is cured by removing the implant and the surrounding scar tissue, although sometimes drug treatments may also be needed.
If people have a breast implant and notice any unusual changes in their breast, they should arrange to see their implant surgeon as soon as possible or ask their GP to refer them to a breast clinic.
People with breast implants should be breast aware, checking their breasts regularly for any unusual changes. See nhs.uk/common-health-questions/womens-health/how-should-i-check-my-breasts
For further information on BIA-ALCL and how to report any suspected complications with breast implants, please see the links below:
Content provided by the Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery Expert Advisory Group (PRASEAG) and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
28 October 2019