Cancer warnings could be put on all breast implants decade on from scandal that left women ‘dying in silence’
Ministers are considering putting a cancer warning on all breast implants a decade after women had “a cocktail of chemicals intended for mattresses” put into their bodies.
Experts and MPs in the UK are calling for tighter regulation and better support after the PIP faulty breast implant scandal left women — including breast cancer survivors — “suffering and dying in silence”.
Health minister Maria Caulfield has pledged to consider a so-called “black-box” warning on breast implant packaging like in the US.
She said women “need to be informed” that “any breast implant has the potential to cause a very rare form of non- Hodgkin’s lymphoma called breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma”.
It came during a debate on the faulty breast implant scandal which saw 47,000 British women given “ticking time bomb” implants made by Poly Implant Prothese (PIP).
PIP implants were outlawed in 2010 when they were revealed to be made with substandard silicone and up to six times more likely to rupture.
In Australia approximately 9,054 PIP breast implants were implanted by surgeons between 2002 and 2010. In April 2010 non-implanted PIP breast implants were recalled from the Australian marketplace.
Victims of the UK scandal have reported a wide range of serious side-effects as experts say they are linked to a raft of health problems including the new form of cancer.
Co-founder of the PIP Action Campaign Jan Spivey, 61, was given the implants as part of reconstructive surgery after breast cancer.
“I thought the reconstruction would be part of the procedure to save my life – I didn’t think that I would be looking at eight additional surgeries relating to my PIP implant, and then in my last surgery I would be facing massive internal bleeding requiring another emergency surgery and suffer a pulmonary embolism that nearly killed me,” she said.
Dr Henry Dijkman has studied the impacts of a wide range of silicone implants.
“We know that there are between 50 to 80 symptoms because silicone is toxic and can really trigger the immune system,” he said.
“Cancer is the most severe symptom. Silicone creates stress to the cell and when a cell has a lot of stress, it can lead to mutations, and then eventually you can get cancer.”
Anyone with a PIP implant can officially apply to have it removed by the NHS, but Labour MP Fleur Anderson said many women cannot afford
“Many applications have been turned down, leaving women with a ticking time bomb in their body,” she said.
“They are unable to afford to get their implants removed privately, are worried that they will rupture further, and are experiencing clear side-effects.”
Watchdog the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency acknowledged the risk of cancer for all breast implants but said PIP implants are no greater risk than others.
“PIP implants do have a higher risk of rupture which may lead to unpleasant symptoms, but ruptured implants do not pose a serious health risk,” a spokesperson said.
“We continue to monitor the safety of all breast implants, including PIP breast implants. We continually review adverse events reported to us, as well as published literature and other data sources, to determine if reports may indicate any increased or previously unrecognised risks.
“If further risks are identified, we will take appropriate action to ensure these are communicated to patients so they can make informed choices. ‘If you are a patient or healthcare professional, please report any issues associated with PIP implants to us so we can continue to monitor these closely.”
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