ALCL and textured breast implants
There is a recently identified association between textured breast implants and a very rare cancer of immune blood cells called breast-implant-related Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (ALCL). The estimated risk of ALCL in breast-implanted women is 1 in 50,000. This is phenomenally rare compared with the risk of breast cancer in ANY woman, which is 1 in 8. Breast implants do NOT cause breast cancer.
The reason we use textured, as opposed to smooth, implants is the texturing reduces the risk of capsular contracture. link to information on this condition. Before textured implants were introduced, the risk of capsular contracture was 40%. With textured implants this has fallen to less than 5%.
There is evidence to suggest that when implants are placed under the muscle, the benefit of texturing is less. Given the recent findings about ALCL, if we decide to place implants under the muscle, I would advise that you choose smooth implants to avoid even this tiny risk.
If you are reading this and are concerned that you have textured implants, but were not informed of the risk of ALCL before they were inserted, there is no need to exchange any breast implant, unless you are experiencing problems such as
For patients who develop ALCL, the most common symptom is a large swelling of one breast, caused by a build-up of fluid around the implant. If this happens then you should inform your plastic surgeon or GP immediately.
To put this risk in perspective, the risk of dying in a car crash in the UK is 1 in 240. The risk of being killed by lightning is 1 in 10,000,000 – which is roughly the lifetime risk – of dying from ALCL caused by breast implants.
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