Written by: Heather Helmendach, Legal Assistant
Law Offices of Thomas J. Lamb, P.A
On August 23, 2017, the Aesthetic Surgery Journal distributed a press release concerning a recent study on the risk of death from Breast Implant-Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL).
To provide some background information, 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. While it is extremely rare, the consequences can be fatal if left untreated.
Over the past few months, BIA-ALCL has been a source of concern due to the increased attention it has been receiving in the medical literature.
However, some medical professionals believe that false information regarding the risk of death due to BIA-ALCL is being spread. One such doctor is William P. Adams, Jr. MD, the co-author of a recent study titled, "What’s Your Micromort? A Patient-Oriented Analysis of Breast Implant-Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL)." He explains his position in the following quote:
Unfortunately, patients are getting the wrong information, and this study is critical to correcting that. Furthermore, with this data, we are now confident that this condition needs a reclassification as a lymphoproliferative disorder and not a lymphoma. We conducted this micromort study to bring real life perspective for all existing and potential breast augmentation patients who might have reservations about implants based on the recent media coverage indicating that breast implants can be fatal - a sensationalized take on a very rare and very treatable condition.
Otherwise put, Dr. Adams does not believe that the risk of death due to BIA-ALCL is significant enough to warrant its current classification as a lymphoma.
The measurement of a "micromort" is used to calculate this risk, and one micromort is equivalent to a one in one million chance of death. The risk of death due to BIA-ALCL was estimated to be 0.4 micromorts.
To put this into perspective, the study provides the following comparisons:
- The micromort of a woman skiing for 1 day = 0.77, 2x that of a patient having a breast implant for life
- Drinking 2 glasses of wine or riding a bike for 17 miles = 1, 2.5x the micromort of having a breast implant for life
- Driving a car for 8 hours = 16, 40x the micromort of having a breast implant for life
Contrary to what one might believe, the authors of the study claim that its purpose was to accurately explain the risk of BIA-ALCL, not to downplay it.
Though few women are diagnosed with BIA-ALCL, and even fewer lose their lives as a result, many women still experience significant adverse effects that can be financially, emotionally, and physically costly.
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:
- Breast Implants and Lymphoma: Who's to Blame?
- Breast Implant Lymphoma: Causes Uncertain, but Costs Undeniable
- Breast Implants Linked to Rare Lymphoma Blood Cancer