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What is BIA-ALCL?

Breast Implant-Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) is a rare type of T-cell lymphoma that develops in the scar tissue (capsule) surrounding breast implants. Unlike breast cancer, BIA-ALCL affects the immune system rather than breast tissue.

Understanding BIA-ALCL

BIA-ALCL develops primarily in individuals with textured breast implants, such as Biocell implants manufactured by Allergan, which have a higher risk compared to other textured implants. It typically presents as swelling caused by fluid buildup around the implant or as a lump near the implant or in the armpit. Symptoms can appear years after implant surgery, with an average onset of seven to ten years.

Diagnosis of BIA-ALCL

Diagnosis involves imaging tests like ultrasound or MRI to detect fluid collections or masses. Fluid or tissue samples are analyzed for abnormal lymphoma cells, including testing for specific markers like CD30 and ALK.

Treating BIA-ALCL

Treatment includes surgical removal of the affected implant and surrounding capsule (capsulectomy). Additional therapies like chemotherapy, radiation, or immunotherapy may be necessary if the lymphoma has spread beyond the capsule. Regular follow-up care is crucial to monitor for recurrence.

Risk Factors and Awareness

The risk of BIA-ALCL is associated with textured implants, especially Biocell implants, and increases over time post-implantation. Early diagnosis and treatment significantly improve outcomes, with a high rate of cure if managed promptly.

 While BIA-ALCL is rare, it’s important to be aware of the symptoms if you have breast implants. If you notice unusual changes such as swelling, pain, or lumps, consult your doctor promptly. Early detection and treatment are crucial for managing this condition effectively. Prioritizing your health and addressing any concerns early will ensure the best care and peace of mind.

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I am a Consultant Oncoplastic Breast Surgeon. After years of training in surgical oncology, I have focussed my interest on the treatment of breast disease. In particular, my area of interest is the rapid assessment and management of all breast conditions, with a particular interest in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer and an emphasis on breast conservation with an optimal cosmetic outcome.​

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