The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) has issued an advisory on the risk of Breast Implant Associated-Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL). BIA-ALCL is a rare type of lymphoma that usually develops around breast implants.
This move was in view of more information that has recently come to light on this risk.
In a statement on Friday, May 10, HSA advised persons with breast implants to consult their doctors if they experience pain or swelling around their implants after the surgical incision has healed. Those who are considering breast implants should discuss the benefits and risks of the different types of implants with their doctors.
Breast implants have a silicone outer surface that is either smooth or textured. Globally, the majority of persons with breast implants who have developed BIA-ALCL have had textured implants. Research has found that there is a relatively higher incidence rate in those implanted with macro-textured breast implants.
However, the risk factors associated with the disease are still unclear. HSA noted that there are also a few unconfirmed reports of BIA-ALCL in patients who have received smooth-surfaced implants.
BIA-ALCL is a cancer of the immune system and not a type of breast cancer. It usually involves a swelling around the implant, and has been reported to occur as early as one year and as late as 37 years after the breast implant surgery.
If diagnosed early, BIA-ALCL can be successfully treated with surgery. However, in cases where the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, further treatment such as radiation or chemotherapy and targeted immunotherapy have been used.
“Removal of breast implants is not necessary for patients implanted with breast implants if you have no symptoms of swelling, lumps or pain around your implant," said Professor Ong Yee Siang, Head and Senior Consultant of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery at the Singapore General Hospital and HSA’s Expert Panel member on Breast Implants.
"Consult your doctor to discuss your options if you are concerned. In addition, patients considering breast implants should discuss the risks and benefits of the different types of implants with your doctor," Prof Ong advised.
To date, HSA has received one report of BIA-ALCL locally. The patient, who was diagnosed early, is recovering