If you have questions about breast implant-associated lymphoma, you’re not alone. It’s important to make an informed decision when opting for breast implants, and your board-certified plastic surgeon is your best source of information about it. As you schedule your breast augmentation consultation, here’s what to know about it and what it means for your breast implant procedure.
Breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma is not breast cancer. This disease is a rare type of lymphoma that affects the immune system. Implant-related lymphoma affects a very small number of women with breast implants, particularly the textured type. The lymphoma is not in the breast tissue itself but in the scar tissue surrounding the implant. Implant-related lymphoma typically advances slowly, but in more severe cases, it can spread to the lymph nodes near the breast. Most cases occur at least two years after the breast implants were placed.
An exact cause for implant-related lymphoma has not been discovered yet. Having implants with textured surfaces increases the risk of developing implant-related lymphoma. It’s thought that textured implants may carry a higher risk due to causing greater inflammation than smooth implants do. The type of implant fill (silicone or saline) does not seem to be a risk factor. There does not appear to be a difference in risk between women receiving implants for breast augmentation or women having breast reconstructive surgery, since certain textured expanders have also been shown to increase the risk.
Symptoms of implant-related lymphoma may include:
- Persistent breast swelling
- A mass or pain in the breast implant area
- Fluid collection around the breast implant
- Lump under the skin
- Changes in breast shape or size
All symptoms related to implants should be reported to your plastic surgeon as soon as possible so you can review your options.
After confirming the presence of breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma with a diagnostic test such as an ultrasound, MRI, needle biopsy, or CD30 immune staining, you’ll likely receive a referral to an oncologist. A consult from an oncologist can help to determine what stage the lymphoma is in and formulate a treatment plan. In addition to the stage of the lymphoma, factors like the type of lymphoma, your health status, and your age contribute to determining the right treatment plan for you. For a majority of cases, the implant must be surgically removed as well as the fibrous capsule surrounding the implant. This procedure can often treat implant-related lymphoma, but there may also be a need for lymph node removal near the breast implant if there are cancer cells present. In some cases where the cancer is more aggressive or advanced, chemotherapy may be necessary in addition to surgery.
Dr. Golosow is a leading breast surgeon in the Fort Myers area and offers years of experience in helping patients achieve greater confidence with breast implants. To learn more about your options and how to ensure a safe and low-risk procedure, contact our office by calling or filling out our online contact form.