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Breast Implants and Cancer

Updated: Feb 11, 2020

On February 6, 2019, the FDA issued a letter to healthcare providers about a type of cancer linked to breast implants. It is called Breast Implant Associated - Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL). The purpose of this letter was to increase the awareness about an association between all breast implants, regardless of filling or texture, and BIA-ALCL. There is an increased risk of developing BIA-ALCL within the scar capsule adjacent to the implant.

BIA-ALCL is a type of lymphoma, not a cancer of the breast tissue. The fibrous scar (capsule) that develops around a breast implant separates the implant from the rest of the breast. BIA-ALCL is generally found adjacent to the implant and contained within the fibrous capsule. Signs of BIA-ALCL can include new swelling, lumps, or pain around breast implants after initial surgical sites have fully healed. Expedition of diagnosis is warranted. Fluid or masses collect around the implant. These must be examined for BIA-ALCL diagnosis. The FDA estimates that BIA-ALCL occurs in 1 in 3,817 patients to 1 in 30,000 patients. Based on reports, this form of lymphoma appears to be readily treatable when detected early.

BIA-ALCL does not affect breast cancer patients who have surgical breast recontruction using their own tissue.

If you have breast implants, be vigilant of any changes and of your follow-ups with your surgeon.

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