Can Breast implants cause cancer? If you have breast implants or have been considering breast augmentation, It’s a question you may have wondered about after seeing news stories or social posts about something called BIA-ALCL. When the FDA announced there was an association between breast implants and anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL), many women became concerned.

While breast augmentation is, by and large, still considered a safe procedure when performed by an experienced cosmetic surgeon, it’s important to understand all the medical information available.

What is ALCL?

ALCL is a rare type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that impacts the immune system. It develops when there is a build-up of abnormal T-cells in the lymph nodes and can spread to other parts of the body. BIA-ALCL is an even rarer form of ALCL that develops in the scar tissue that surrounds breast implants. BIA-ALCL is not a form of breast cancer.

While there is a connection between breast implants and ALCL, that does not mean all women with breast implants are at risk, or that all breast implants cause ALCL. Statistics from the FDA show that ALCL is very rare.  Here are important facts to consider:

  • Millions of women in the United States have breast implants. Since 2010, there have been 660 reports of BIA-ALCL, including nine fatalities.
  • In February 2019, the FDA updated the numbers and performed an in-depth analysis of the reports to determine unique cases. They estimate 457 unique cases of BIA-ALCL.
  • The majority of reports of BIA-ALCL occur in patients who have textured breast implants or who have had textured implants at some point in the past. The FDA report suggests that textured implants are a risk factor.

Many in the medical community believe that certain types of textured implants increase your risk of developing BIA-ALCL. Many studies suggest that the surface texture of these implants or individual texturing processes used by various manufacturers create a perfect environment for the development of ALCL in the breast capsule.

Another theory has to do with the presence of a certain strain of bacteria found in the layer of microorganisms around a breast implant. One theory according to a study, suggests that higher levels of this bacteria may cause ALCL.

How do I know if I have BIA-ALCL?

The most common symptoms that are present with BIA-ALCL are breast pain and swelling or excess fluid accumulating around the breast implant. A rash may also be an indicator.

Because BIA-ALCL is highly treatable when caught early, it’s important to seek medical care as soon as you notice anything unusual.

Should I have my textured implants removed?

If you are not experiencing any problems with your textured implants, there is no need to have them removed unless you wish to. Remember, undergoing another surgery carries some risk as well. Current FDA recommendations for patients state, “If you have breast implants, there is no need to change your routine medical care and follow-up.” As always, if you have any concerns, it’s important to consult with A board-certified cosmetic surgeon.

If you have any questions about Breast Implants and ALC, please call Suffolk Plastic Surgeons, P.C at (631) 364-0333

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