Message for patients having had breast implant surgery

Health Canada has recently published an update indicating an increase in the number of cases of anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) associated with textured breast implants reported among Canadian women.

According to Health Canada, BIA-ALCL is a serious but rare type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (a cancer that affects the immune system) that may develop many months or years after a breast implant procedure. It is not a cancer of the breast tissue. BIA-ALCL usually presents as an accumulation of fluid (known as seroma) between the implant and the surrounding tissue. This type of cancer is very rare. To date, one case has been reported in Quebec, and the patient has been successfully treated. Furthermore, in the absence of symptoms, there is no need to worry.

If you have concerns about this situation, please call 811 or contact your health institution or surgeon directly. The latter will be able to provide answers to your questions. The Montreal West Island IUHSSC has also set up a telephone line for its patients.

If you are a patient who has had breast implant surgery at a hospital of the Montreal West Island IUHSSC since 1995 and you are concerned about your condition, please call 514-630-6800, and leave us your name, phone number where you can be reached between 8 am and 4 pm, health insurance card number, and hospital card number if possible. A nurse will contact you within 48 to 72 hours to answer your questions.

At the request of the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MSSS), the establishments of the health and social services network, including the Montreal West Island IUHSSC, are reviewing their records of patients who have had breast implant surgery since 1995 to identify those who have textured breast implants. These patients will be contacted to inform them of the potential risk of BIA-ALCL, and the symptoms or signs to monitor (breast swelling, pain or a palpable mass). 

It is important to remember that the risk of developing BIA-ALCL after breast implant surgery is very low, and the current recommendation for patients with textured breast implants and no signs or symptoms is routine follow-up with their physician. Regular breast self-exams are also recommended. 

For more information, please visit Health Canada’s website.