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Fitness & Health

09th Oct 2019

HSE issues warning over breast implants and “tissue expanders”

Carl Kinsella

Cancer breast implants

A concern for anyone with breast implants.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the HSE has warned patients with breast implants to be aware of the signs and symptoms of a rare form of cancer by the name of breast implant associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL).

While the cancer is related to breast implants, it is not breast cancer, rather a cancer of the immune system.

According to the HSE, “most cases of BIA-ALCL have been in patients with implants or who have had tissues expanders manufactured by Allergan with a surface called BIOCEL.”

This product hasn’t been used in Irish procedures since December 2018.

Public and private hospitals in Ireland are currently identifying patients who have had implant surgery in their hospitals.

They will be writing directly to people who have breast implants or have had tissue expanders to advise them of the signs and symptoms and to offer advice and guidance.

Nevertheless, the cancer is rare, and the risk is described as “low.”

The signs and symptoms are described as follows by the HSE:

  • Swelling: Early symptoms of BIA-ALCL include a new and distinct swelling of the breast; you would notice this as a substantial change in the size of the affected breast which comes on rapidly over several days or weeks. This breast might feel tense or firm.
  • Lump: More rarely it presents with a lump beside the breast implant which may or may not be associated with lumps or glands in the armpit on the same side.

However, these signs and symptoms can crop up for reasons totally unrelated to BIA-ALCL, including as part of the healing process after surgery.

For more information from the HSE on breast implants, patients can check here.

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