You may be aware of recent media coverage on the safety of Breast Implants and in particular, the incidence of Breast Implant Associated-Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA – ALCL).

Following on from their recent laboratory testing and statistical analysis, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has provided updated information on BIA- ALCL as follows:

What is BIA-ALCL?

It is a rare type of cancer of lymphatic cells and a form of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. It is not a breast cancer.

Are some implants riskier than other implants?

There have been no reported cases of BIA-ALCL in patients that have smooth implants.  All reported cases involve patients that have either textured or polyurethane implants

What is the risk? 

Accurate data at present shows that risk of this rare type of lymphoma varies from 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 10,000 depending on the type of textured surface.  To date, there have been less than 100 cases reported in Australia and less than 1,000 worldwide (out of 35 million women with implants worldwide).

What are the symptoms and treatment?

The most common symptom is swelling of a breast caused by fluid build-up around the implant, but in some cases it may appear as a lump in the breast or armpit. If these symptoms exist, the first step would generally be an ultrasound to investigate the source of swelling, which in most cases is not related to ALCL. The Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA) have advised that the vast majority of cases were cured with the removal of the implant and surrounding capsule.

What to do now

If you are concerned about your breast implants, particularly swelling or hardening, then please contact our clinic to organise an appointment.

If no symptoms exist, TGA have advised that due to the condition being rare, then there is no concern and the implants don’t need to be removed. Many patients are reassured by this and do not feel the need to change their existing implants to a smooth implant.

However, some patients feel more comfortable in replacing their implants (especially if the implants have been in for a while) and we would be happy to see you to discuss and arrange this. We would ask you to bring a GP referral to this consultation.

In either case, you should however continue to monitor your breasts for the symptoms above and attend regular surgeon reviews (every 1 to 2 years).

For more information on BIA – ALCL, please go to https://www.tga.gov.au/alert/breast-implants-and-anaplastic-large-cell-lymphoma or contact our clinic on 9508 9508