Allergan Aesthetics is launching a digital campaign to locate women who have, or have had, BIOCELL breast implants and/or tissue expanders, in order to warn them that they are at an increased risk of a rare type of cancer called breast implant associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma, or BIA-ALCL.
Allergan, an AbbVie company, under pressure from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), recalled the implants in July 2019. At that time, the FDA had identified 573 cases of BIA-ALCL worldwide, including 33 deaths. Among the women with cancer, 481 had Allergan implants. Among the 33 deaths, only 13 had reported the type of implant used, and all but one of those involved Allergan implants.
Since the recall, Allergan has been making efforts to reach patients who have or have had the implants. However, the company has yet to reach all recipients of the some 52,000 BIOCELL breast implant units.
Women who are not aware of the type of implant that they have in place or their implant history should either contact Allergan, their surgeon, or hospital where they received the implant to see if either source has records of their implant information.
BIA-ALCL is not breast cancer but a type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The likelihood of developing BIA-ALCL is thought to be less than 0.03% in patients with BIOCELL textured implants. Regardless, BIA-ALCL is a serious condition that can lead to death, especially if it is not diagnosed early and treated promptly.
The FDA recommends that women with breast implants who have no symptoms not have their implants removed. If they have questions, however, they should speak with their doctors. Symptoms of BIA-ALCL include swelling or fluid accumulation in the breast or around the implant, lumps, pain, changes in the shape or size of the breast or breasts, and redness.