Written by: Heather Helmendach, Legal Assistant
Law Offices of Thomas J. Lamb, P.A
ALCL is a rare type of blood cancer that is classified as a non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and one of the subtypes of T-cell lymphoma. It can initially appear either in the skin, in the lymph nodes, or in organs throughout the body.
When caused by breast implants, ALCL has come to be called "breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma" (BIA-ALCL). Generally, it has "only been identified in patients with late onset of symptoms such as pain, lumps, swelling, or asymmetry," according to the FDA report. Put otherwise, it seems that the diagnosis of BIA-ALCL cannot be made until the aforementioned symptoms emerge.
After several years of gathering more information on the reported cases of this association, the FDA released an update on March 23, 2017 stating the following:
Since 2011, we have strengthened our understanding of this condition and concur with the World Health Organization designation of breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) as a rare T-cell lymphoma that can develop following breast implants.
This update also reported that BIA-ALCL occurs more frequently as a result of breast implants with textured surfaces rather than those with smooth surfaces.
At the present time, the FDA has received over 359 medical device reports of BIA-ACL, nine of which include deaths. Furthermore, 203 of these cases involved textured implants, and only 28 involved smooth implants.
The FDA currently urges doctors to:
Consider the possibility of BIA-ALCL when you have a patient with late onset, persistent peri-implant seroma. In some cases, patients presented with capsular contracture or masses adjacent to the breast implant. If you have a patient with suspected BIA-ALCL, refer her to an appropriate specialist for evaluation. When testing for BIA-ALCL, collect fresh seroma fluid and representative portions of the capsule and send for pathology tests to rule out BIA-ALCL...
We are interested in cases concerning BIA-ACL, and urge you to complete a free case evaluation form if you or someone you know has been diagnosed with lymphoma after having breast implants.
If you would like to learn more about BIA-ACL, visit the information page on our website.
We will continue to monitor the medical literature concerning breast implants and this rare type of lymphoma, and report on new information as it is released.