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Risk of Breast Implant Associated-Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL)

The Health Science Authority (HSA) of Singapore recently released a healthcare advisory informing medical practitioners and members of the public on the risk of Breast Implant Associated-Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL), which have been shown to develop around breast implants. – risk of breast implant

What exactly is Breast Implant Associated-Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL)?

BIA-ALCL is a rare type of non-Hodgkins lymphoma that develops around breast implants. Is it not a cancer of the breast tissue.
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.
 

When does it happen?

It usually occurs as early as 1 year after the breast implant surgery, or as late as 37 years after the breast implant surgery.

Who is at risk of getting BIA-ALCL?

Breast implants usually have a surface that is either smooth or textured. Globally, the majority of people who have developed BIA-ALCL have received textured implants. There have also been a few reports of people with smooth implants who got BIA-ALCL but these reports have been unconfirmed still. – risk of breast implant

In the Singapore Context

There has been one report of a patient with BIA-ALCL locally in Singapore, however, the diagnosis was made early and the patient’s prognosis is reported to be good.
There are currently 8 registered brands of breast implants in Singapore. Textured implants are associated with the highest risk of BIA-ALC L. The only brand in Singapore that is registered in Singapore is the Allergan Natrelle implant, which Singapore has since disallowed its sale as of April 2019. – risk of breast implant

What to do next?

If you are intending to get breast implants, have a discussion with your surgeon regarding the suitability of the various types of implants and the pros and cons.
If you already have a breast implant, there is currently no need for the removal of your implant.
However, it is important for you to take note of signs such as pain, swelling or lumps, especially around the implant.
Conduct regular breast self-examination and make sure you attend your regular check-ups with your doctor as this can aid in early detection of the disease.
Breast cancer screening can still be effectively carried out in women with breast implants, but special considerations do need to be taken.

Screening with mammogram can still be done for these women.

It is important for patients to inform the medical technologist conducting the scan about the presence of breast implants, so as to allow appropriate positioning to optimize visualization from the mammogram.
It may be possible that the implants may obscure the view of breast lumps depending on the location. Hence positioning of the breast is important, and additional views and images are also taken to minimize the chances of missing detection of a lesion.
While rare, there is also a slight risk of implant rupture due to compression during the mammogram.
Other imaging modalities such as MRI breast or ultrasound can also be conducted for women with breast implants.

Take Care!


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Genital Warts: The Cauliflower-Like Lumps on the Genitals

Genital warts are white or flesh-coloured, smooth, small bumps that can appear anywhere in the general area of the genitals. They can also grow larger and appear as fleshy, cauliflower-like lumps on the genitals. Neither of which are more dangerous than the other, it is merely a characteristic and the stage that the illness was noticed.
Genital warts is an STD symptom caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).

HPV can cause multiple illnesses in the body as there are multiple strains of the virus attributing to different diseases in humans. Out of the hundreds of known strains of HPV, about 30 strains of the virus cause diseases of the genital area. These include warts, or in more sinister cases, cancer of the anus, cervix, vagina, and penis. Read: Causes of Vaginal Lumps & Bumps & Perianal Warts (Peri-Anal Warts)

Most of the other strains have no known effect on humans.


How do I get infected by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)?

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is a contagious disease that is transmitted through genital skin contact or through direct contact with genital fluids of a person already infected with HPV.
For transmissible illness such as these, using barrier methods of protection for sexual intercourse such as condoms should be emphasised. However, condoms are not very effective against transmitting HPV just because the HPV virus does not require penetrative sex to transmit the virus.

It can also be transmitted from a mother to an unborn child if the mother has an active HPV infection during the course of the pregnancy.


How do I know I am infected with HPV? How can it be detected?

A majority of people infected with HPV do not realise they even have the virus as it does not present with any symptoms.

Some people will notice bumps or warts around the genital area, otherwise known as genital warts. These usually occur one to three months after initial infection with HPV.


The most sinister manifestation of the HPV disease is cervical cancer affecting women in their 30s or 40s. The simplest way to detect cervical cancer is by identifying if an individual is an active risk of getting the disease and doing regular PAP smears. MOH guidelines are also apparent on the timing and interval for PAP smears for women in the reproductive age group. Sometimes a biopsy of unhealthy cervical looking tissue may be needed.

For men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM), it is recommended that they do an anal PAP smear to investigate for HPV.

We also provide Rapid HPV Testing (next day result) in all our clinics in Singapore.


How can HPV & Genital Warts be treated?

In most cases, the HPV infection is self-limiting therefore no treatment is deemed necessary.

Unless an individual has issues with antibodies or a weak immune system in general, the body should be able to contain and eradicate the virus from the body in due time.
If an individual has an impaired immune system or a weak immune response, a lingering infection or a co-infection with another sexually transmitted illness can occur.

In cases of genital warts, the treatment options are largely dependent on the severity of the infection. The most common treatment options include creams and paint-on ointments. These induce a state of cell death so warts around the genital will eventually wither and fall off the skin.

Some patients may be offered cryotherapy where the wart is frozen then removed. The wart is frozen prior to that so that there will be no transmission of the wart after.
Apart from the above surgical options for wart removal also exist. This is where a surgeon uses electrocautery or a scalpel and surgically excise warts. See: Genital Warts Removal

Unfortunately, the majority of genital warts or other warts can recur very frequently and is rather common to have warts recur post removal. Sometimes, repeated treatments are required for complete remission, but patients should be aware of the recurrence rates in such an infection.


HPV and Cervical cancer

Some HPV viruses are known as high-risk viruses. This is particularly true in virus strains 16 and 18. This is because it induces changes in the cells in the cervix of a woman and causes cervical if not detected early.

It is in this light that it is recommended that all sexually active women are advised to go for regular PAP smear tests, screen for HPV infections and visit your doctor for HPV vaccination in Singapore.


HPV and PAP Smear

Pap smear is a relatively painless test that can be quickly done. It involves inserting a speculum into the vagina of the patient to allow for inspection then a tool is inserted to obtain scraping. The patient should go back to resume activities of daily living with no hindrance once after the procedure completed by our female doctor.
These scrapings and obtained cells are then examined under a microscope to look for abnormal cells.

We also provide Rapid HPV Testing & Pap Smear in all our clinics in Singapore.

HPV and HPV Vaccination

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is a group of virus that can cause:

  • Vaginal Cancers
  • Vulvar Cancers
  • Anal Cancers
  • Penile Cancers
  • Oropharyngeal Cancers (cancers of the throat and tongue)
  • Genital warts or Papillomas

HPV vaccination is used to protect against HPV-related diseases and cancers.
To complete the HPV vaccination, 3 doses of injections will be given. The recommended HPV vaccine schedules are:
First dose: During your doctor visit.
Second dose: 1 – 2 months after the first dose
Third dose: 4-5 months after the second dose


Get More protection with New 9-valent HPV vaccine (Gardasil 9)

There are over a hundred strains of HPV and they are each given a designated number e.g. HPV 6 or HPV 16 or HPV52.
HPV strains that cause warts will NOT cause cancers and HPV strains that cause Cancer will NOT cause warts.

Compared to the older Gardasil, the new GARDASIL 9 offers a wider range of protection against HPV strains.
Both Gardasil and Gardasil 9 give you protection against the cancer-causing HPV 16 and 18 and the wart-causing HPV 6 and 11.
Gardasil 9 protects additional 5 other high-risk types: 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58.
Together these types cause about 90% of cervical cancers.

Another HPV vaccine Cervarix, on the other hand, protects only against the commonest cancer-causing HPV 16 and 18. There is no wart protection with Cervarix.
If you are interested in getting the HPV testing & PAP smear, genital warts treatment or HPV vaccine, please visit our STD clinics and speak to our male and female doctors.
If you or your partner are experiencing any possible signs or symptoms of infection, or have had any potential risk exposures, please see our STD doctors today.
Take Care. Be Safe!



Other Interesting Reads:

  1. An Overview of STD – From an STD Doctor
  2. Anal Pap Smear for Anal Cancer Screening
  3. HIV Rash: What You Need To Know
  4. Genital Blister, Genital Ulcers & Genital Warts – What You Need to Know
  5. What You Need To Know about HPV, Cervical Cancer, Pap Smear & HPV Vaccination
  6. 11 Causes of Dyspareunia (Pain During Intercourse)
  7. 10 Common HIV related to Opportunistic Infections
  8. What is HPV Vaccination (Gardasil 9)
  9. 10 Causes of abnormal Vaginal Lumps and Bumps
  10. An Overview of Gonorrhoea
  11. What is the Treatment for Cold Sores? What causes Cold Sores?
  12. Herpes: Everything You Need to Know!
  13. Genital Warts: The Cauliflower-Like Lumps on the Genitals
  14. Syphilis Symptoms (Painless STD Sores & STD Rashes)