Individuals with Breast Implant Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) are facing challenges obtaining health insurance coverage. BIA-ALCL is a form of cancer that affects the immune system, emerging in relation to textured breast implants. While BIA-ALCL is not breast cancer, it is associated with textured breast implants. In other words, this is "breast implant" cancer or as others have called it, a "man-made" cancer.
Treatment for BIA-ALCL differs from standard lymphoma treatments and follows standardized guidelines. The early-stage disease can often be treated with surgery alone, involving the removal of the implant and the scar tissue surrounding it. More advanced cases may require chemotherapy and radiation. Timely treatment is crucial, as delayed intervention can lead to disease progression and metastasis.
Breast Implant Associated Squamous Cell Carcinoma (BIA-SCC) is also a type of cancer associated with breast implants. SCC is usually treated with surgery as well, however this cancer does not respond to chemotherapy or radiation treatment. Aggressive and invasive surgery is the only known method to treat this cancer. Squamous cell carcinoma caused by breast implants is vastly different than the squamous cell skin cancer. Breast implant SCC is highly aggressive and metastasizes quickly, spreading to surrounding tissues or organs. Early detection and treatment of SCC are imperative to prevent its severity and can be life-threatening, 50% of patients die within 6 months of diagnosis.
Recently, insurance companies updated implant removal coverage policies. Some insurance companies, such as Aetna and Blue Cross Blue Shield, offer coverage for implant removal in cases of BIA-ALCL or specific complications associated with breast implants. However, other companies do not have explicit coverage policies or may vary based on state regulations.
Who then will be responsible for the costs? Ultimately, it is up to the patient. Another factor to consider when considering breast implants.