You may have heard about this cancer called ALCL in the news lately and that’s because the FDA just released its findings of data collected since 2011. As Ivy League-educated, board certified plastic surgeons in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Dr. Tracey Stokes and Dr. Laura Sudarsky care about your safety and concerns, as well as how you look! We are here to break it down for you and help you understand what is actually going on!
So, what the heck is BIA-ALCL?
BIA-ALCL is an extremely rare and treatable form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma that is linked to patients with breast implants. The cancer generally shows itself, on average, eight years after the implants are put in. Warning signs are swelling and fluid build up around the implant. This is not a form of breast cancer!
What does the FDA have to say about this now?
The 2017 FDA update reported 359 cases of ALCL linked to breast implants. Some of these reports were inaccurate, unverified, or incomplete. Since there is some misinformation in these numbers, the FDA recommends they not be taken as definitive cases.
Here are the ALCL breast implant stats:
• 203 were textured
• 28 were smooth
• 186 were silicone-filled
• 126 were saline-filled
That sounds scary, should I have my implants removed?
The risk of developing ALCL from a breast implant is extremely low at 0.003%. To put that percent into perspective, the risk of other implant related problems is significantly higher. For example, at 10 years the risk of capsular contracture is ~14% and implant rupture is ~10%. Most of the patients in our practice have had no problems and are thrilled with the outcome of their breast augmentation or breast reconstruction surgery. Keep in mind, there are approximately 10 million women in the world with breast implants and the FDA only reported 359 cases of ALCL. At this time, there is no recommendation from the FDA or the plastic surgery society to remove unaffected breast implants.
How would I know if I have a problem and what do I do next?
If you develop swelling in your breast, come see us immediately. You will need an ultrasound to determine if there is any fluid. If there is fluid, it needs to be drained and tested for CD30 and ALK markers to diagnose BIA-ALCL. The FDA states: “if you have breast implants, there is no need to change your routine medical care and follow-up.”
If I have ALCL, how is it treated?
Treatment includes removing the implant and the capsule (scar tissue surrounding the implant). Very infrequently, patients also need chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
If you are considering breast implants, ensure you do your research and speak to your healthcare professional about the various types of implants to determine what the best option is for you. Any further concerns you may have about your implants or your desire to have breast implants can be discussed with our board certified female plastic surgeon team! Dr. Tracey Stokes and Dr. Laura Sudarsky will ensure you are following the necessary steps to prevent any issues down the road and to help you decide on the best breast implants for you!