If you have been researching breast augmentation you may have come across recent articles linking breast implants with a condition called Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (ALCL). Firstly, it should be noted that ALCL is extremely rare, however as with any surgery it is important to understand the associated risks.
What is Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma?
Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma is an extremely rare type of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
There are two forms of ALCL. The type which is not associated with breast implants presents as painless, enlarged lymph nodes in the neck, armpit or groin. Other parts of the body that may be affected include skin, bone marrow and bones, lungs and the liver. It is most commonly treated with chemotherapy or other therapies include radiotherapy, stem cell transplants and steroid therapy. ALCL that is associated with breast implants (BIA-ALCL) appears to behave quite differently to the non implant related condition. It usually presents with sudden swelling of one breast usually many years after the implants were inserted. The condition appears more easily treatable and curable than the other form of ALCL.
What is the correlation between Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma and Breast Augmentation?
We want to emphasise that ALCL associated with breast implants is extremely rare. It should also be noted that smooth implants have not been implicated with this disease since BIA-ALCL has only occurred in patients with textured implants. Research has been ongoing since 2011 and the exact number of cases is difficult to determine but only a few hundred cases have been diagnosed in the world so far.
If you would like to read about the various types of implants click here.
Leading research performed in Australia and overseas has now demonstrated that BIA-ALCL is associated with the presence of a number of different types of bacteria which may evade the patient’s immune system within the crevices of textured implants. It is thought that the effects of these bacteria causes a chronic inflammatory reaction which may, in some susceptible patients eventually give rise to BIA-ALCL. Most of the implant manufacturers have been implicated though it appears that some may have a higher risk than others.
What should you do prior to breast augmentation?
Patients should discuss the implant choice with their surgeons if they are concerned about the risk of BIA-ALCL.
They should educate themselves on the differences between textured and smooth implants so that they are aware of the potential issues with either implant.
The implants used by Mr Hanikeri have the lowest incidence of BIA-ALCL of ALL the main implant manufacturers available in Australia. THIS RISK IS ESTIMATED AT AROUND 1 IN 60000. To put this in perspective, around 1 in 8 women in Australia without breast implants, will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives whilst around 2% of women with or without breast implants will develop lymphoma in their lifetime. It should also be noted that the risk of mortality from ALCL (the chances of a patient dying who contracts the disease) is very low. With treatment, most patients can be cured from BIA-ALCL. Research has also been undertaken to help reduce the frequency of the disease in association with breast augmentation.
Patients who already have breast implants who have not experienced problems or unexplained swelling need not be concerned. If they are worried, they should book an appointment to discuss their concerns with their surgeon.
LATEST NEWS UPDATE
Statement in response to media coverage on the Medical Journal of Australia’s paper on Breast implant associated-Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA- ALCL)