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09 Dec 2014

Breast implants commonly used in reconstructive surgery for women following a mastectomy puts them at increased of developing a rare cancer, research has found.

In a cruel twist for women recovering from breast cancer, Macquarie University researcher Professor Anand Deva has found chronic infection associated with textured breast implants – frequently used in reconstructive surgery following a mastectomy performed to treat breast cancer – can activate the immune system and lymphocytes.

In a study published in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Professor Deva said the long-term stimulation of these lymphocytes could turn the cells cancerous and give rise to rare anaplastic large cell lymphoma.

Altogether, 170 cases of the cancer have been reported worldwide, and “all have been associated with having implants as some sort of risk”, he said, adding that in 90 per cent of cases, the breast implants involved were textured.

Professor Deva told the risk for women with such implants developing the cancer was 30 per cent, but that the risk became “much higher” if the implant was part of reconstructive surgery following breast cancer.

The warning is the latest scare involving breast implants.

Several years ago there was a world-wide alert issued after it was discovered that French-made Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) implants had been manufactured using industrial rather than medical grade silicone.

Subsequent investigations have found that although PIP implants are more prone to rupture, they do not contain toxic chemicals and has recommended that they be left in place unless leaking or rupture is detected.

Adrian Rollins  

Published: 09 Dec 2014