General Health

When Boobs Go Bad: Rare Cancer Linked to Popular Breast Implant

Smuggling a brand new pair of boobs under your shirt?

It might be a good idea to have a chat to your surgeon, at least if your ‘girls’ are of the textured implant variety.

Research has discovered that women with a certain form of implant may be 14 times more likely to develop a rare form of blood cancer. According to a report on A Current Affair, 72 Australia women have contracted the cancer after receiving the implants. Three of these women have died.

Textured implants, which account for approximately 90 per cent of the 40,000 implants used by surgeons each year, are often used to create a more ‘natural’ look. It seems however, that that’s not all they’re creating. The TGA has confirmed that 72 cases of anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL), a cancer of the immune system, have been reported and linked to the implants, since 2007.

Mum Nadine Campbell was one of those women. Diagnosed with the rare cancer in 2017, she has had her implants removed.

“Words can’t explain what you go through,” she told A Current Affair. “I did not know how fast this thing had spread. Had it gone through my body? How much time I had left, I just didn’t know. Was I going to see my kids get married?”

Blooming bacteria to blame?

So what’s gone so wrong on Boobs-ville? Medical professionals aren’t certain WHY these particular implants are causing issues, but the higher surface area of textured implants might be to blame. It’s though this can create a breeding ground for significant numbers of bacteria which can flourish, unchecked.

Currently, Biocell implants, produced by Allergan, have the highest risk for BIA-ALCL, with an estimated one in 3800 breast implants being linked to the cancer.

Alert not alarmed

Incidences of BIA-ALCL are still considered ‘rare’ with current expert opinion putting the risk at between 1-in-1,000 and 1-in-10,000.

A statement by the Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons indicated that it takes an average of 7-10 years after implant insertion for BIA-ALCL to develop and that early stage disease is manageable with surgery.

The TGA, in conjunction with experts in the field, have formed an expert advisory panel. This panel will continually monitor the issue and provide current advice to both surgeons and patients.

Rare Cancer

Preventing problems

Experts agree that minimising bacterial contamination is key to preventing BIA-ALCL. The Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons recommends that you only choose a surgeon who follows the 14-point plan, which is designed to minimise the number of bacteria that can contaminate breast implants at the time of surgery.

Women who notice swelling and tenderness around their implants should contact their doctor or surgeon. Most cases are resolved by removing the implant.

For more information, visit the TGA or the Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons 

Need to brush up on your breast health? Check out the facts on breast cancer and what you need to know.

Avatar of Naomi Foxall

Naomi is 3/4 latte drinking, peanut butter obsessed former magazine girl who now does stuff with words for a living while juggling 2.5 kids, 2 cats, 1 rabbit, husband and an unhealthy obsession with slow cooking.

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