Cancer fight gets a win
EVERY breast implant used in Australia should now be recorded on a national register to help track cancer cases thanks to The Sunday Telegraph’s campaign.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt and his Labor counterpart have both agreed to act after we revealed how there had been an explosion in rare cancer cases associated with breast implants, with 72 cases reported and three deaths.
This week The Sunday Telegraph can reveal that Australian women travelling overseas to get cheap breast implants have also contracted this rare cancer and some have been fitted with dodgy devices with no brand name or serial number.
In response to our campaign, which is still pushing for better monitoring and compensation for victims, Mr Hunt said the fact not all doctors were reporting the devices to a national registry was an important issue. He said he has asked the Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy to “investigate this issue immediately”.
“The use of registries will be discussed with all health ministers later this year,” he said.
Opposition health spokeswoman Catherine King said if Labor wins the next election she would make participation in the registry mandatory.
“Mr Hunt should explain why he hasn’t already done so,” she said.
The Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons said some discount providers and high volume doctors were refusing to take part in the registry.
When all devices implanted into Australian women were listed on the registry it would be easier to monitor the spread of the cancer, called Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma.
This cancer usually takes 7-14 years to develop after breast implants are put in. Australian doctors have recently slashed their use of high-risk breast implants associated with the cancer but experts are warning that women who travel to Asia for cheap surgery are still getting them.
Today, we can reveal that four of those 72 cancer cases are associated with breast implants put in during cut-price surgery deals in Thailand (2), Mexico (1) and China (1).
Professor Anand Deva, whose research has exposed the extent of the cancer risk, said he was deeply concerned about the Chinese implant.
“We have no idea who made it, it could have dodgy fillers and no quality control,” he said.
Dr Rod Cooter, the doctor who helped set up Australia’s breast device registry that is tracking the growing number of cancer cases associated with breast implants, said overseas providers were using the higher-risk textured devices. And women taking part in medical tourism were not being properly monitored for cancer because their doctors don’t carry out regular post-surgery checks, he said.
Research by professors Deva and Mark Magnusson identified women fitted with Silimed’s rough-textured implant have a 23.5 per cent greater risk of cancer and those with Allergan’s Biocell implant a 16.5 per cent higher risk.