Update on the national breast implant recall

Following the TGA review of breast implants and breast tissue expanders, the WA Department of Health is in the process of sending letters to all patients who have had implants in the last 15 years in a WA public hospital.

Patients are being advised to seek a review by their GP if they have concerns regarding their implant or symptoms.

Referral guidelines for patients requiring an outpatient appointment within the public health system have been developed and are available within the WA Health Central Referral Service Guide

Key Points:

  • Patients with a seroma or other clinical signs and symptoms of breast implant associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) are required to have a bilateral diagnostic breast ultrasound scan prior to referral.
  • Private patients should be referred to their implanting surgeon or private hospital for further advice if necessary.
  • The current advice from the TGA is that the risk of developing BIA-ALCL is rare and therefore removal of breast implants is not recommended if the patient does not have symptoms of BIA ALCL.
  • The TGA estimates that between one in 2,500 and one in 25,000 people with breast implants have been diagnosed with BIA-ALCL in Australia.

In the absence of clinical concerns:

  • Referral for specialist review may not be warranted and the TGA recommends GPs advise patients with breast implants to perform breast self-examination regularly and return for review if concerns arise. It may be appropriate for you to arrange a follow-up review with the patient later.
  • Ultrasound is not recommended for asymptomatic patients unless there are clinical concerns.

The TGA has published fact sheets for both health professionals and consumers.