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Published: 20 December 2016

Information for Women with Breast Implants

The Ministry of Health is advising anyone with breast implants concerned following an Australian report showing a slight increase in an already known rare risk of cancer that no immediate action need be taken if they are well.

The Ministry has yet to study the detail behind the recently released statement, but says that women with implants should regularly check for swelling or pain in their breasts, and to contact their GP or surgeon if concerned.

The latest report is believed to clarify the risk.  It shows that for every 1000 to 10,000 women with implants, one woman may get a case of anaplastic large cell lymphoma, which can be successfully treated by removing the implant.

There have been three cases of the rare cancer, linked with implants reported to Medsafe in New Zealand, and 46 in Australia.  The New Zealand cases were treated by removing the implant. One New Zealand case was reported in 2014 and the other two in 2015.  The three New Zealand patients had implants in place for 4 to 12 years. No further information about the New Zealand cases is currently available. 

The US FDA has warned about the link between implants and the rare instances of this type of cancer since 2011. This information would usually be part of the information provided to anyone receiving implants.

The US FDA reported a small, but increased risk of the rare type of lymphoma in 2011 (http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/Safety/AlertsandNotices/ucm240000.htm)

Other countries, such as Australia, have provided similar alerts and advice then and since.

The NZ Association of Plastic Surgeons has published information about this issue at http://plasticsurgery.org.nz/consumer-information/issues/bia-alcl-faqs/.

Australia’s equivalent of Medsafe, the Therapeutic Goods Administration will now be undertaking a formal risk benefit review next year and New Zealand has been invited to participate.
Latest TGA release and FAQs

Medsafe will be obtaining more information about the outcomes of the three cases in New Zealand and that information will be provided to the Therapeutic Goods Administration to consider as part of next year's review.

Anyone concerned about their implants should get in touch with their GP or surgeon.

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