Breast Implants are done for various reasons – sometimes it is done for breast enhancement and sometimes for post-cancer reconstruction. These implants are either filled with silicone gel or saline solution which gives them either a smooth surface or a textured surface.
But with putting breast implants also comes a very high added risk of BIA-ALCL. Women opting for implants need to be better informed of such risks – A thorough discussion with the plastic surgeon about the risks and benefits of each implant type will help make a fully informed decision.
BIA-ALCL is a rare type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the cells of the immune system. It can occur in different parts of the body, including the lymph nodes and skin. Even though BIA-ALCL is found in the breasts of some individuals with breast implants it is not specifically breast cancer.
The link between textured breast implants and the disease was first reported in 1997. Since then, there has been a total of 600 cases and 17 deaths worldwide.
BIA-ALCL is considered treatable if found early enough, with surgery to remove the implants and any masses, and possibly chemotherapy or radiation if the disease has spread.
Because most cases of BIA-ALCL can be treated with surgery alone which removes the implant and scar tissue, 93 per cent of women diagnosed and treated are disease-free after three years follow-up.’
Luckily the awareness and understanding of the disease is far greater today than it was in the past. There is still a long way to go in educating everybody but hopefully women and doctors will be more aware of the risks in the future.