What is BIA-ALCL? BIA-ALCL stands for Breast Implant Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma. It is a rare lymhoproliferative disorder that is associated with breast implants. Very rarely, it may lead to form of cancer of the capsule surrounding the implant. It is important to not confuse BIA-ALCL with breast cancer. BIA-ALCL involves swelling of the breast due to an accumulation of fluid, or more rarely presents as a lump, and typically appears between 3 to 14 years after surgery. It has been seen with all implant surfaces but the risk with smooth implants is the smallest.
What is the risk of developing BIA-ALCL? The risk of developing this disorder is low, with diagnosed cases being present in less than 1 to 1000 patients. To put this in perspective, the risk for any Australian woman, with or without implants, of developing breast cancer in her lifetime is 1 in 8. Most patients who do develop ALCL have a mild, non-invasive version which is completely cured by removing the implant and its capsule. Invasive disease is extremely rare and is also treatable with surgery and sometimes chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The risk of death from BIA-ALCL is estimated at less than 1 in 1 million.
What actions should you be taking? If you are not experiencing swelling or lumps in your breasts then the advice is to do nothing, except continue to monitor and perform regular checks on your breasts. There is no need to get your implants removed nor do you need regular ultrasound scans. Mammograms should be performed as usual. If you are experiencing swelling or changes to your breasts, you should contact your GP or your breast implant surgeon.
More information on BIA-ALCL can be found here