British Women Warned on Silicone Breast Implants After Cancer Death

Women in the United Kingdom (U.K.) are being warned to check in with their doctors if they have received a French-manufactured silicone breast implant known as the Poly Implants Prothèses, or PIP. The silicone breast implants have been linked to lymphatic cancer, and were recently cited in the cancer death of a 53-year-old French woman.

PIP breast implants are among the cheapest on the market, according to a report from the Daily Mail. Up to 50,000 British women have the French-made implants, which are fragile and more likely to leak than other brands. Cancer fears were first raised over the implants about 18 months ago, but were reignited after the death of the woman in France. Although the link with the implants hasn’t been established, it is feared that the gel leaked out of her breasts and into her system. The French Society of Reconstructive and Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons said the gel could have been an ‘aggravating factor’ in the cancer, and is reviewing its policy on the implants, the Daily Mail said.

About 18 months ago, the British Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, which is responsible for the safety of drugs and medical devices in the U.K., told surgeons to stop using the implants because of a possible association with cancer. But after tests appeared to rule out the risk, breast implant recipients were reassured that there is ‘no current evidence’ of a health risk, the Daily Mail said. But in light of the recent death in France, a spokesperson from the Agency told the Daily Mail that any woman who is concerned that her implants have ruptured should speak to her surgeon.

In the U.S., breast implants have recently raised concerns because of a possible association with a rare lymphatic cancer called anaplastic large cell lymphoma or ALCL. Earlier this year, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) warned that 60 cases of ALCL have been reported among the 5 to 10 million patients with both silicone and saline breast implants. The cancer normally occurs in the breast in only 3 in 100 million women.

According to the FDA, the longer a woman has breast implants, the more likely she is to have complications. One in 5 patients who received implants for breast augmentation will need them removed within 10 years of implantation. For patients who received implants for breast reconstruction, as many as 1 in 2 will require removal within 10 years of implantation. The most frequently observed complications and adverse outcomes are tightening of the area around the implant (capsular contracture), additional surgeries, and implant removal. Other complications include a tear or hole in the outer shell (implant rupture), wrinkling, uneven appearance (asymmetry), scarring, pain, and infection, the agency said.

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