Hundreds of British women who have had breast-enhancement surgery are at risk a deadly form of cancer triggered by their implants, say scientists.
New data suggests that the disease is far more common than first thought.
It was once believed that fewer than one in 100,000 breast-implant patients were affected, but the true figure could be one in 3,000 with the riskiest implants, according to findings announced last week.
Breast-implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) is not breast cancer but a form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system.
New figures released last week suggested one in 3,000 women could face health complications associated with certain types of textured breast implants
It is seen only in women with certain types of textured implants – prostheses with a rough surface, used in 99 per cent of British breast augmentations. The disease develops on average seven years post-surgery. However, patients have been diagnosed anywhere from two to 28 years after the initial operation.
Although it is curable if caught early, if it is not spotted and is left untreated, the disease can spread throughout the body.
Dr Mark Clemens, of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, said: ‘Deaths are rare, but they do occur. Think of BIA-ALCL as like a matchstick. It’s easy to snuff out when it’s still a match. But it can also burn down a house.’
The surgeon at the forefront of studying BIA-ALCL, Professor Anand Deva, claimed his team has seen a 50 per cent increase in cases over the past year alone. Prof Deva, of the Australian School of Advanced Medicine, said: ‘We need to be very aware of this disease as we are going to see more of it.’
The latest findings were revealed at The Aesthetic Meeting 2018 in New York, the annual conference held by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.
There are 529 recorded cases of BIA-ALCL worldwide and there have been 16 deaths, say surgeons.
In the UK, the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency is tracking cases and has had reports of 33 women with BIA-ALCL. There has been one confirmed death.
‘If I’d known… I’d never have had my implants’
Nadine Campbell a 46-year-old mother-of-two, had a £6,000 breast augmentation in 2011, going from a B- to a C-cup.
‘I wasn’t happy with my breasts, having fed two children,’ she says. ‘I didn’t want to be bigger, just fuller. And I was happy with the result.’
Nadine Campbell a 46-year-old mother-of-two, had a £6,000 breast augmentation in 2011, going from a B- to a C-cup
Nadine began having problems in October last year. ‘My left breast started to feel sore. In the shower I noticed it was swollen – over a few days it seemed to become almost double the size of the other.’ In December a biopsy confirmed BIA-ALCL. ‘I couldn’t stop crying,’ says Nadine. ‘I just thought that was it, I was going to die.’ Professor Deva removed the implants, scar tissue and fluid – and told her the disease had been caught at the earliest stage.
Nadine, from Lithgow, Australia, says: ‘I had smooth implants put in three months later as Prof Deva told me this was safe.
‘I’ve been reassured the cancer won’t come back but it plays on my mind. If I’d known the risks, I’d never have had a boob job in the first place.’