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Signs and Symptoms of BIA-ALCL

Those in the United States who have textured breast implants could be a risk of developing breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma, or BIA-ALCL. This is a rare cancer which, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is associated with breast implants that women receive after reconstructive or cosmetic surgery.

Specifically, the majority of those diagnosed with BIA-ALCL received textured breast implants. Unlike other types of breast implants, textured breast implants encourage the growth of scar tissue around the implant, which in turn leads to a higher risk of cancer. If you or a loved one has questions regarding BIA-ALCL, contact the Allergan breast implant cancer lawyers at Bentley & More, LLP.

Understanding BIA-ALCL – The signs and symptoms

BIA-ALCL is not a type of breast cancer. This cancer is found in the fluid and scar tissue around the implant. In some cases, this type of cancer can spread throughout the body. While the risk of developing this type of cancer is said to be low, it is deadly, especially if it is not treated promptly.

According to the FDA, the main symptoms of BIA-ALCL are persistent swelling as well as the presence of a mass or pain around the area of the breast implant. BIA-ALCL is typically found near the breast implant, around the fibrous scar capsule. This is not found in the breast tissue itself.

The symptoms of this type of cancer can develop years after the implant is initially inserted, long after the surgical incision has healed. Symptoms generally appeared between three and 14 years after the implant.

How to treat BIA-ALCL

Women who have had textured breast implants inserted should regularly see their physicians for a breast wellness check, even if they show no signs and symptoms of cancer developing around the implant. Anyone who experiences the symptoms mentioned above should immediately see a physician so they can be tested for BIA-ALCL.

The first thing a physician will likely do is check new-onset fluid collection around a person’s textured breast implant. They will send a sample of the fluid for testing. However, it is not uncommon for fluid to accumulate around breast implants. This does not necessarily mean cancer has developed, but it should certainly be checked.

BIA-ALCL is generally cured by removing the breast implants in their capsules. If the cancer has spread beyond the lymph nodes, a patient may need to undergo chemotherapy in order to make a full recovery. If treated promptly, the cure rate for this cancer is high.

Why use textured implants?

In most cases, smooth-surface breast implants are used in cosmetic breast surgery. However, textured breast implants are more commonly used during reconstructive breast surgeries. Textured breast implants tend to reduce the risk of the implants shifting after placement.

Have there been recalls of these implants?

There have been recalls of textured breast implants in the United States. Most cases of BIA-ALCL have been associated with BIOCELL textured breast implants made by Allergan. However, other companies make textured breast implants, including Johnson & Johnson subsidiaries Mentor and Sientra.

Textured breast implants manufactured by Allergan have been recalled by the FDA. In a statement, the agency said that they issued the recall “To protect individuals from the increased risk of breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL), associated with Allergan BIOCELL textured breast implants.”

Allergan agreed with the FDA’s assessment and has removed these products from the global market.