Panorama: The Great Implant Scandal
The recent Panorama programme examined the risks of medical devices and implants and used a rare breast implant related lymphoma as one of the examples for concerns.
Breast Implant Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA ALCL) is a rare, slow-growing lymphoma. The US FDA identified a possible association between breast implants and this form of cancer in 2011. We have included BIA ALCL as one of the risks in our Informed Consent documents since 2012.
The risk of ALCL is identified to be around 1 in 24,000 implants and the MHRA’s (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) investigation into the association between Breast Implants and Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) is ongoing.
(To put figures into perspective, the risk of breast cancer in females is 1:9.)
There is no conclusive evidence that textured implants are less safe than smooth implants.
BIA-ALCL is a lymphoma and not a breast cancer. It is generally found adjacent to the breast tissue and contained within the fibrous capsule which the body forms around the breast implant. BIA-ALCL typically presents at late onset (more than 1 year after implantation) with rapid swelling in one breast.
It should be noted that ALCL is extremely rare and treatable by excision of the capsule and adjunctive treatment. Early detection is therefore important.
We encourage all of our patients to carry out regular self examination of the breasts and armpits for lumps, swellings and irregularity. Breastcancer.org has a very good page on breast examination https://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/testing/types/self_exam
Any patient who has developed a swelling or lump more than a year after implantation should see their GP who can arrange for further testing.
We encourage our patients to contact us with any further questions or concerns. Further useful information on BIA-ALCL can be found on these links: