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Breast Implant Associated-Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) is a rare sub-type of T-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). It is one of four sub-types of ALCL which has been found in association with breast implants (silicone or saline) in a small number of cases world-wide.

When breast implants are placed in the body, they are inserted behind the breast tissue or under the chest muscle. Over time, a fibrous scar called a capsule develops around the implant, separating it from the rest of the breast. ALCL is generally found next to the implant itself and contained within the fibrous capsule.

The most common symptom for BIA-ALCL is a breast lump or swelling caused by a unilateral seroma (collection of fluid) occurring between the implant surface and the capsule. Occasionally this can occur in both breasts.

Ultrasound guided aspiration of a seroma of adequate volume is essential to test for this disease.  This is then sent for cytological (microscopic) examination to be able to make the diagnosis of BIA-ALCL and to exclude other causes.

Most patients have an excellent prognosis when complete removal of the capsule and prosthesis with negative margins is achieved surgically. However, in some cases the disease spreads throughout the body with a potentially life threatening result.

For more information on BIA-ALCL please visit the British Association of Breast Surgery’s information page

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