Updated: May 16
Written by Board Certified Plastic Surgeon Nima Naghshineh, MD, FACS on July 8th, 2020.
What is BIA-ALCL (Breast Implant Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma) and what are the symptoms?
BIA-ALCL is a type of immune system cancer. It is a type of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
It is NOT a type of breast cancer.
Symptoms of BIA-ALCL can be seen at any time but often occur years after placement (on average 8-10 years) of breast implants. Most commonly, women report the following:
Swelling or fluid around the implants
Pain or tightness of the breasts
Deforming of the breast
A lump or mass in the breast
Rash or ulcer on the breast
The cancer cells are typically localized to the fluid around the implant as well as the capsule around implant and in the local tissue but with advanced disease it can spread throughout the body.
A plastic surgeon experienced in breast-cancer and BIA-ALCL would be best equipped to coordinate your care. Typically, some imaging studies such as an ultrasound will be performed and if there is fluid around the implant, that fluid will need to be tested for abnormal cancer cells. If there is a lump, a mammogram or MRI maybe indicated, as well as a possible biopsy, either with a needle or through a small incision.
If the diagnosis of BIA-ALCL is confirmed, treatment will invariably include removal of the implant, the capsule around the implant in its entirety, (referred to as Total Capsulectomy or En-Bloc Capsulectomy), and if there is concern for regional or systemic spread throughout the body additional procedures and treatments like lymph node testing and removal and chemotherapy or radiation may be needed and will likely require the expertise of a medical oncologist.