Breast Implants – Safety Update May 2018

An update on the safety of breast implants has been reported in the media recently. These reports relate to a rare incidence of Breast Implant Associated-Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL).

It is important to note that BIA-ALCL is not a form of breast cancer. You can be assured that our Specialist Plastic Surgeons are aware of this issue and if you are concerned about your breast implants, particularly swelling or hardening, please book an appointment with your surgeon.

The risks of BIA-ALCL forms an important part of discussions our surgeons conduct with every prospective breast augmentation patient at Assure Cosmetic Centre.

The Facts

  • Breast Implant Associated-Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) is a rare form of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma of the breast in women with breast implants. It is associated with textured breast implants, bacteria, time and there appear to be genetic factors as well putting some at greater risk.
  • The risk of any lymphoma in an Australian women living to the age of 85 is 1:50.
  • BIA-ALCL is a rare disease. Of 35 million women around the world with textured breast implants there are just over 500 confirmed cases and 16 documented deaths. The most accurate data at present shows that risk of this lymphoma varies from 1:2,700 up to 1:80,000 depending upon the type of textured surface. Smooth breast implants on their own have not been associated with this disease.
  • There is also published evidence that suggests applying bacterial mitigation strategies at the time of surgery in the form of the 14-Point-Plan reduces the incidence of this disease.
  • BIA-ALCL usually presents with delayed swelling of the affected breast or less frequently with a lump (or both) for no apparent reason from two to 14 years after the original implant surgery (average over seven years). However most delayed breast swelling after breast implants are not going to be BIA-ALCL.
  • As with all cancers there are those who present in an early stage and those who present with more advanced disease. The disease has an indolent/slow course with most women diagnosed and treated in an early stage (>85%) with symptoms for eight months on average. At this stage the disease is cured with surgery alone without the need for chemotherapy, radiotherapy and with no recurrence when performed properly. To date, all patients with early stage disease who receive appropriate treatment are cured with surgery alone.
  • In contrast, patients who present with more advanced stage disease (<15%) have had symptoms on average for 22 months (almost two years) before definitive treatment. If symptoms are not investigated and left untreated the likelihood of more advanced disease increases as with other cancers.

All women with implants who notice changes in their breasts, particularly swelling or hardening, should seek medical advice promptly from their GP or surgeon. The overwhelming majority will not have BIA-ALCL however, if you have any concerns and would like to book an appointment with your surgeon at Assure, please contact us.

Our surgeons are members of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) and the Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS), which have published statements as to their members’ commitment in reducing infection risk.

To read the ASPS and ASAPS statements, including important facts and full details on the rarity and risks of BIA-ALCL, please view the Media Release links below:

Additional information is available from the Australian Government’s Therapeutic Goods Administration, which reviewed this issue.


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