The increasing incidence and associated mortality of breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) has become alarming. However, many patients remain unaware of their risk for BIA-ALCL and may overlook early warning signs of the cancer. The authors aim to contact all breast implant patients at a single institution to educate them on the disease and provide screening and treatment as indicated.
All patients who had breast implants placed at Penn State Hershey Medical Center from 1979 to November of 2017 were mailed a letter to describe BIA-ALCL and to encourage a follow-up visit. Patient information regarding demographics, implant type, the number of calls and follow-up visits, physical examination findings, and patient decisions after being informed of the disease were recorded prospectively.
One thousand two hundred eighty-four letters were mailed to 1020 patients (79.4 percent) with smooth implants and 264 patients (20.6 percent) with textured implants. Seventy-six calls were received and 100 patients (84 smooth and 16 textured) were evaluated within the first 2 months. Of the 16 patients with textured implants, nine are undergoing secondary surgery to remove or replace their textured device.
Informing patients at risk for BIA-ALCL is an important endeavor. Patients educated on the disease will likely be diagnosed and treated earlier, which can prevent the need for adjuvant chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy and decrease mortality. The authors provide a method, supporting documents, and preliminary data to help other institutions contact their breast implant patients at risk for BIA-ALCL.