Have you been diagnosed with breast implant Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL)? As the name makes clear, this form of cancer is related to certain types of breast implants that have been shown to increase the risk of developing this form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
Three years ago, the WHO stated that BIA-ALCL is a T-cell lymphoma that can occur after you have breast implants. The next year, FDA made recognition of the WHO designation that this cancer can occur after a patient receives breast implants.
About Lymphoma Cancer
Lymphoma is a cancer that affects the lymphatic or lymph system, which is a vital part of the immune system. It collects and destroys harmful organisms, including viruses and bacteria, as well as abnormal cells. The lymphatic system is part of the body’s defenses to protect it from disease and infection.
The lymph system is a vast network of tissue and fluid throughout the body, including:
- Lymph: This is a clear fluid that contains white blood cells, particularly lymphocytes through your lymph system. White blood cells are important to fight infection.
- Lymph vessels: Small, thin tubes that transport lymph to various parts of the body through the blood.
- Lymph nodes: Small masses of lymph tissue that store white blood cells. They help to take bacteria out of the body and other substances from the lymph liquid. Lymph nodes are under the arms, in the neck, chest, abdomen and groin.
Lymph tissue also is in the thymus gland, spleen, tonsils, bone marrow and digestive system. Lymphatic tissue contains lymphocytes. There are two major types:
- B cells that produce antibodies that kill viruses and bacteria.
- T cells that fight various infections that use other processes and chemicals.
Lymphoma starts when a lymphocyte transforms into an abnormal cell that divides uncontrollably. These cells may form masses or tumors in lymph nodes and other places in the body. Lymph tissue is all through the body, so lymphoma can start anywhere. It also may spread to any organ or tissue.
Major Types of Lymphoma Cancer
These are Hodgkins disease or Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgin lymphoma. There are 30 different subtypes of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Most lymphoma, including BIA-ALCL, is a form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma has become more common the past several decades. This may be due to more people who have a suppressed immune system, such as people with HIV/AIDS, and people who had an organ transplant. More recently non-hodgkins roundup lymphoma lawsuits have been in the news due to Roundup Weedkiller exposure.
Recent Clinical Study Confirms Higher Cancer Risk With Breast Implants
A recent clinical study in the US determined that many breast implants, including some made by Allergan, are related to a higher risk of breast ALCL. FDA stated in February 2019 that the number of women who have been diagnosed with this cancer is rising and was 457 at that time. Nine women in the United States have died from BIA-ALCL. Note that this is not breast cancer and can happen in various parts of the body, especially the lymph nodes and skin.
The breast implants have been shown to boost the risk of BIA-ALCL, and can occur with either silicone or saline, as well as a textured or smooth implant. But clinical studies find there is a higher risk with textured breast implants, such as Allergan’s BIOCELL textured breast implants.
With nearly 1.5 million women getting new breast implants annually across the globe, FDA is concerned that cases of this cancer will continue to rise in the future, especially as more medical professionals become aware of the condition.
Investors have taken note of Allergan breast implants possibly causing cancer. A group of them filed a class action lawsuit, alleging the company hid the association between textures breast implants and BIA-ALCL. (ICIJ.org)
Symptoms of BIA-ALCL
If you have had breast implants and are concerned you could have BIA-ALCL, symptoms include:
- Breast lumps
- Pain with swelling
- Buildup of fluid in the breast or breasts
- Hardening around the implants or mass around implants
How BIA-ALCL Is Diagnosed
Once you have symptoms such as the ones above, your physician will collect fluid samples to be tested. Specifically, doctors will often drain the breast implant fluid and test it for CD30, which is also called TNFRSF8, a cell membrane protein beloning to the tumor necrosis factor receptor family. It is a tumor marker that is associated with the cancer.
If you test positive, this means there are malignant T-cells present.
Doctors can also use various tests to diagnose BIA-ALCL:
- Physical examination
- Chest x-ray
- CT scan
- MRI scan
- Ultrasound imaging test
- Positron emission tomography (PET) scan
Cures for BIA-ALCL
Fortunately, most cases of this form of breast plant lymphoma can be cured by taking out the implant and the whole capsule of scar tissue. In 85% of cancer cases, this process entirely treats the cancer. But if your treatment or diagnosis is late, you may need chemotherapy or radiation, and there is a greater risk of serious complications, even death.
How to Qualify for a BIA-ALCL Lawsuit
According to a New York Times report from 2017, (NYTimes.com) Allergan and other breast implant manufacturers admit that some of their products sold in the past decade could be linked to ALCL.
It seems likely that the product manufacturer could have offered consumers earlier warnings about the risk of cancer diagnosis. Also, many women may have avoided cancer if a recall had been issued by Allergan and other manufacturers of similar breast implants.
You may have a potential personal injury or product liability lawsuit if:
- You had breast augmentation surgery, no matter whether it was cosmetic or reconstruction, and
- Developed BIA-ALCL, even if the diagnosis came years after your surgery.
It is recommended once you have a cancer diagnosis to have your case reviewed by a qualified personal injury attorney in your area. Be sure to pay attention to the statute of limitations for personal injury and product liability claims in your state. You may have as few as one or two years to file a claim after you are diagnosed.