In North America, 550,000 women receive breast implants every year, and those with textured implants have an increased risk for developing implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL).
If you have breast implants and experience the following symptoms, you should schedule an appointment with your plastic surgeon.
- Breast pain
- Breast swelling
- Breast asymmetry
- Palpable mass
After an evaluation by your plastic surgeon, an ultrasound is generally ordered. If fluid is noted around the implant, the fluid is sent for testing. If the fluid is positive for ALCL, you will be referred to an oncologist. Stage I and II ALCL are typically treated with surgery alone, which includes removal of the implant, mass, and affected breast tissue. If ALCL is discovered in the later stages, such as stage III or IV, you may need additional treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
The prognosis for stage I and II is excellent, and the mean survival for stage III and IV is 12 years. Fortunately, in most women ALCL is detected at stage I and II. “It is important for women, including women with breast implants, to perform breast self-exams monthly and yearly checkups with their physician,” states Jaleh Eslami, MD, plastic surgeon with Kettering Physician Network.
The occurrence of ALCL is rare. There have only been 400 reported cases of ALCL since 1997, but it’s still important to understand your risk. The longer it has been since implantation, the higher the risk for ALCL, especially with textured implants. One in 35,000 women with breast implants develop ALCL by the age of 50. Women from New Zealand and Australia have the highest risk of developing ALCL. Meanwhile, women of African and Native American descent have the lowest risk.
“I strongly recommend all patients with breast implants to have regular follow-ups with their physician and complete all recommended imaging such as mammograms or ultrasounds,” says Dr. Eslami.
If you have concerns about your breast implants, visit ketteringhealth.org/findaphysician to find a plastic surgeon.
To schedule a breast screening, call Kettering Breast Evaluation Center at 1-800-373-2160.