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MRHA releases a statement on Breast Implant Associated-Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL)

breast augmentation risksLast month, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) released a statement on breast implant associated-Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (ALCL).

 What is ALCL?

Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma is a very rare sub-type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and last year the World Health Organisation defined a specific type which is breast implant associated.

The most common symptom in women with breast implants seems to be a collection of fluid, known as a seroma, which accumulates six months or more after surgery has taken place. Typically, though, cases develop many years after surgery.

Currently, there is an ongoing investigation by the MHRA into this new form of cancer and their advice is being continually updated as more information is gathered.

Patient safety is always of paramount importance

The MHRA has formed an independent expert advisory group – the Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery Expert Advisory Group (PRASEAG) – who are reviewing the risks associated with breast implants in relation to BIA-ALCL. Their advice will help to guide the actions of the MHRA.

Another important step is the Breast and Cosmetic Implant Registry (BCIR) which was launched in October 2016 in the wake of the PIP breast implant problem. By capturing data on breast implants, this will aid in the early detection of potential issues and provide a mechanism for contacting and managing patients in event of a problem.

Should I be worried about ALCL?

ALCL is very rare but the advice from the MRHA is to seek advice from your plastic surgeon if you develop a seroma or lump in the breast or a swelling around the implant. Currently, the MRHA continues to collect and analyse information on this issue to provide more extensive advice for UK breast implant patients.

The problem seems to be almost exclusively associated with textured surfaced implants and more with one particular type of textured implant than the others. Nagor, the implant brand I use, seems to have an extremely low incidence rate.

As a plastic surgeon, we have received alerts from the MHRA regarding the potential risks of ALCL. Their advice is in line with what I already tell my Warwickshire breast implant patients: regularly check for symptoms relating to your implants, whether that’s lumps, swelling or any changes to the breast, and seek advice immediately if you have any concerns.

During your breast augmentation consultation, we will discuss all potential risks and complications associated with the procedure, so you are fully-informed before making your decision to proceed.