Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (ALCL)

Plastic Surgeons of Alaska

Women with breast implants may have a very small, but increased risk of developing anapestic large cell lymphoma, or ALCL, in the scar tissue and fluid adjacent to the implant. ALCL is not breast cancer – it is a rare type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (cancer of the immune system).

Most patients were diagnosed when they sought medical treatment for implant-related symptoms such as pain, lumps, swelling, or asymmetry that developed after their initial surgical sites were fully healed. In the cases reported, ALCL was typically diagnosed years after the implant surgery.

Your physician should consider the possibility of ALCL if, after your surgical site is fully healed, you see changes in the way the area around the implant looks or feels – including swelling or pain around the implant. If ALCL is suspected, your physician you to an appropriate specialist for evaluation which may involve obtaining fluid and tissue samples from around your breast implant. If ALCL is confirmed, your physician will develop an individualized treatment plan for you. Because of the small number of cases worldwide and variety of available treatment options, there is no single defined treatment.

If you have breast implants and have no symptoms, you do not need to do anything additional, but you should continue to routinely monitor your breast implants and follow your routine medical care. Removing the implants is not recommended in women with no symptoms without a diagnosis of ALCL.

If you do not currently have breast implants but are considering breast implant surgery, you should discuss the risks and benefits with your health care provider. You may also visit the FDA’s Breast Implants website for additional information.

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