Breast implant-related ALCL (anaplastic large cell lymphoma)

Written by: Mr Navid Jallali
Published: | Updated: 02/06/2020
Edited by: Emma McLeod

Since 2011, there has been a known link between breast implant and Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (ALCL). The risk of this condition is low but there are symptoms to be aware of. Mr Navid Jallali clarifies the symptoms and treatment of BI-ALCL.

A woman in a low-cut vest top. The focus of the image is on her chest.

What is breast implant-related anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BI- ALCL)?

BI-ALCL (Breast Implant-Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma) is a type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma i.e. cancer of the immune system. The association between breast implants and BI-ALCL was first recognised in 2011.


Is it like breast cancer?

BI-ALCL is not a breast cancer and breast implants are not associated with this form of tumour.


In most cases, BI-ALCL is localised around the implant but in some rarer cases, it may spread throughout the body.


What is the risk of having BI-ALCL?

The risk of BI-ALCL is low, with an estimated prevalence of around 1:6000 –1:30000.


Textured implants appear to have a greater risk of BI-ALCL, but the cause of this is not clear. It appears that the fill of breast implant i.e. silicone vs saline does not affect the risk of developing BI-ALCL.


What are the symptoms of BI-ALCL?

Symptoms of BI-ALCL are usually acute swelling of the breast (seroma) and very occasionally, a lump in the breast. The median time from breast implant to the appearance of BI-ALCL is around 8-10 years.


What should someone with fitted textured breast implants do?

The current recommendation is that there is no need to remove or replace textured implants unless you have the symptoms described above. If you do develop these symptoms, then we would recommend you seek medical advice immediately. Generally, seromas are examined with an ultrasound and MRI scans are used to examine breast lumps.


If BI-ALCL is confirmed, treatment requires the surgical removal of the implant and its scar tissue (a capsulectomy) and if the lymph nodes are enlarged, they also might need removing.


Mr Jallali is a leading surgeon with experience in several types of breast surgery. Click here to learn more and to get in touch.

By Mr Navid Jallali
Plastic surgery

Mr Navid Jallali is a highly respected plastic surgeon who has been practising for over 20 years, specialising in breast augmentation and reduction, facelifts, rhinoplasty and tummy tucks. He is based in London, attending to patients at The London Welbeck Hospital. He is a consultant cosmetic and reconstructive surgeon and former head of plastic surgery for Imperial College London NHS trust.

He graduated, with honors, from the University of Bristol and was awarded an MD for his groundbreaking research on tissue engineering. He has received Imperial College London's prestigious Suple prize for both Surgery and medicine.  

Mr Javali is one ok the UK's most experienced microsurgery specialists, favouring this method for the reconstruction of the head, neck and breasts. He is also a reputable surgical tutor and has trained numerous surgeons who have gone on to become consultants in the UK, Sweden, Greece and Holland.

Dedicated to his profession, he and his team have served hundreds of patients with the utmost of care. He is also a well-published research author, a member of the Royal Society of Medicine, has won numerous awards, and has even appeared on and advised for television productions. He can be found in both his private clinic and NHS practice.

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