Written by: Heather Helmendach, Legal Assistant
Law Offices of Thomas J. Lamb, P.A.
On October 18, 2017, the JAMA Surgery journal published an article titled "Breast Implant–Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma A Systematic Review," in which they discuss the rate of occurrence of the condition.
The article served as a review of 115 articles on the topic of breast implant–associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) and 95 patients.
As explained in my previous articles (listed at the bottom of this page), BIA-ALCL is a rare non-Hodgkin lymphoma of T-cell origin that is typically found in the effusion fluid (seroma) surrounding the breast implant, or contained within the fibrous scar capsule. Though this condition is not frequently diagnosed, the consequences can be fatal if left untreated.
According to the JAMA article, diagnoses of BIA-ALCL are increasing as doctors and patients learn more about the condition. While the condition is certainly rare, this new data suggests that it may not be as rare as it was initially thought to be:
The exact incidence is unknown due to the lack of standardized criteria for diagnosis; however, it is estimated to be 1 case per 30 000 women with implants per year, with a median time to onset after implantation of 10.7 years. A prospective study on Natrelle (Allergan) 410 breast implant risk factor analysis found that 4 patients of 17 656 who received breast implants developed BIA-ALCL, suggesting that the incidence may actually be closer to 1 case per 4000 [citations omitted].
However, many practitioners are still unaware of--or at least unfamiliar with--many important factors of BIA-ALCL. In order to address this lack of knowledge, more information on the risks, symptoms, development, diagnosis, and treatment of BIA-ALCL is being distributed to the appropriate healthcare providers as it is published.
The JAMA article closes with the following call to action for surgeons and patients:
Before breast augmentation or reconstruction, surgeons need to convey the risk of breast implant–associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma to patients, with particular emphasis on the established linkage to textured implants; patients must be educated on the importance of routine surveillance after implantation, and it is likely that increased follow-up will lead to a further rise in this diagnosis.
Given increased access to necessary information on BIA-ALCL, the hope is that doctors will be better equipped to diagnose and successfully treat women exhibiting symptoms of the condition.
We will continue to monitor the medical literature concerning breast implants and this rare type of lymphoma, and report on new information as it becomes available.
Previous articles on this topic: