Monday 21 October 2019

Probe over cancer link to breast implants

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Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

An investigation is under way to find out if a woman's diagnosis with a rare blood cancer is linked to breast implants, it has emerged.

Some 14 reports of potential breast implant illness, separate to cancer symptoms, have also been reported to the watchdog, the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA).

It comes as thousands more women, on top of the 8,000 already identified, are to be contacted to inform them they are at risk of developing the cancer of the immune system.

The HSE said the risk was low and if the cancer was diagnosed and treated early it had a very good recovery rate.

Around 8,000 women treated in public hospitals would have undergone the breast implant operations after mastectomies for breast cancer. Others had them inserted following the removal of breasts for preventive reasons due to their genetic risk of cancer.

However, thousands more women in private hospitals would have had similar surgery. And others had implants for cosmetic reasons in clinics.

The HSE said it was asking women with breast implants and tissue expanders to be aware of the signs and symptoms of the rare form of cancer called breast implant associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL).

The majority, though not all cases of BIA-ALCL which have been diagnosed in women in other countries, involved implants manufactured by Allergan with an implant surface called Biocell.

These are textured implants that are popular because they are easier to position in the breast.

The particular Allergan implant has not been used in Ireland since December 2018.

The HPRA confirmed it received 14 reports which may potentially related to breast implant illness.

It is important to say breast implant illness is different to the signs of the rare cancer.

Breast implant illness can include joint pain, rashes, memory loss, brain fog and other symptoms.

A spokesman said the HPRA was not in a position to comment on a case of the rare cancer for confidentiality reasons.

The HSE advised symptoms could include swelling in the area of the implant, new uneveness between the size of breasts and discomfort.

Less common symptoms include a hard lump beside or near the implant and lumps in the armpit on the same side.

Women who do not have symptoms are advised they do not need to have the implant removed.


However, is it expected many will demand their removal as a precaution.

The HPRA said the risk of developing the rare cancer "has been shown to be more common than first thought but it still remains a rare condition".

The degree of risk of developing the disease appears to be related to the degree of surface texturing.

A recent scientific journal estimated that there is one case for every 3,345 of these specific implants.

The Irish Association of Plastic Surgeons said implants were safe but had very rare, sometimes serious side effects. If a woman is concerned about symptoms, she should consult her surgeon.

Irish Independent

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