Defending Women with Breast Implant-Associated Cancer

Breast Implant Cancer Advocates offers resources for women seeking help and information regarding breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma, or BIA-ALCL. Our organization believes that access to life-saving medical information is not something that should be hard to find or difficult to understand.

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Get Answers to Your BIA-ALCL Questions

No matter who you are, access to reliable information goes hand in hand with early detection and saving lives. This is true whether you are a woman who has received breast implants for reconstructive or cosmetic purposes, a family member of a loved one with BIA-ALCL or a cancer survivor who hopes to spread awareness. From early symptoms and diagnosis to available treatment options, we are here to help you get the information and resources you deserve.

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Breast Implant Cancer Symptoms

Symptoms for breast implant cancer, or BIA-ALCL, are similar to those of breast cancer. The most common symptom is fluid buildup near or around the implant, known as “seroma.” Often, breast-implant cancer symptoms will appear years after surgery. Other common symptoms include general problems with the implants such as:

  • Pain
  • Lumps
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Change in appearance around the breasts

Because ALCL is a form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, women should also pay close attention to any sudden immune-system deficiencies and/or any sudden bodily changes, such as hair loss or general fatigue.

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Just as with any cancer, early detection is the key to a favorable outcome. That said, many instances of BIA-ALCL are treatable through the removal of the implant and its protective capsule. Medical experts say that in 89 percent of all BIA-ALCL cases, women are cancer-free after five years if the cancer is detected and treated early.

Learn About a BIA-ALCL Prognosis

Getting Tested for Breast Implant Cancer

Experts recommend getting an annual breast wellness checkup with a physician. A “well-woman” exam by a gynecologist should also include a breast exam. If further tests are required, doctors might take a needle biopsy or drain an implant capsule of fluid. Imaging tests such as an ultrasound, PET-CT, MRI or mammography might also be used for ALCL detection.

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  • Ultrasound

    Different from other types of imaging methods, an ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to generate images of structures within a person’s body.

  • PET-CT

    An advanced nuclear imaging technique, PET-CT scans use positron emission tomography (PET) combined with computed tomography (CT) to look at cells and tissues.

  • MRI

    Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, is a scanning method that combines radio waves and the use of powerful magnets to make highly detailed pictures of the inside of a person’s body.

  • Mammography

    Through the use of low-energy X-rays, mammography is an image-production method used for the diagnosis and screening of tumors in the breast.

Unlike other cancers, a majority of BIA-ALCL cases can be treated by removing the breast implant and its capsule if the cancer is detected early. More rarely, and in instances when ALCL has spread through the lymph nodes, doctors will recommend a patient undergo a chemotherapy or a radiotherapy regimen.

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Additional Resources