Most people assume that any cancer in the breast is breast cancer. However, there is a new cancer risk on the rise that women with breast implants need to be aware of. It is called BIA-ALCL, and it is a specific type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma — a type of cancer that attacks the immune system in women who’ve received textured implants.
This cancer risk was announced last July when the FDA alerted the public to the dangers of textured breast implants in a voluntary recall. After dozens of deaths were linked to women with these implants, the FDA finally made their recall announcement, targeting textured implants made by Allergen, Mentor, and other manufacturers.
After extensive studies and compilation of data were concluded, macro-textured implants were the issue. The FDA recently saw 116 new unique cases and 24 deaths in the U.S. with macro-textured implants, which made them compelled to announce the recall. Macro-textured implants have deeper divots than other textured implants, which likely is the root of the cancer. In general, however, over 573 cases of macro-textured implants causing cancer have been reported to date.
“Although other manufacturers were included in the recall, it is important to note that Allergan’s implants comprise most of the cases of BIA-ALCL,” says personal injury attorney Michael J. Warshauer of Warshauer Law Group. “Of the 573 cases, 481 of them were tied to women who’ve received Allergan’s textured implants.”
Some smooth implants have also been reported to cause this type of cancer, but at a very small percent. All woman needs to be aware of the symptoms of BIA-ALCL so they can get treatment right away. For many women, the symptoms can appear anytime from the first year of receiving the implants to dozens of years later. The average discovery rate for this type of cancer is eight years after receiving them.
The symptoms of BIA-ALCL present themselves in two significant ways. The first symptom is swelling in one breast, which is usually combined with pain. This can be present in just one breast. Lump(s) under the skin may also be present as well. Always do your monthly self-breast exams to look for these lumps. If you feel you have any of these symptoms, make sure to contact your doctor right away. The swelling means there’s fluid surrounding the implant, which is a dangerous stage because this is when cancer grows the quickest.
If you verify that you do have one of the recalled implants, but you do not have any of the symptoms related to BIA-ALCL, the FDA advises that you do not get them removed. The chances that the cancer will develop is still quite rare. Since the removal surgery also requires removal of the scar tissue capsule around it, it is a serious surgery that should only be undertaken if needed.