23 Dec 2016

NZ women affected by cancer linked to breast implants

8:13 am on 23 December 2016

Ten women in New Zealand have been diagnosed with a rare cancer linked to breast implants, the country's plastic surgeons association says.

Anaplastic large cell lymphoma, or ALCL, is linked to breast implants, something plastic surgeons say women who have had the breast surgery should be aware of.

Anatomical breast implants.

Anatomical breast implants. Photo: Daniel Reinhardt/DPA/AFP

The New Zealand numbers have been revealed after Australian health authorities said the cancer was more common than previously thought.

The cancer is successfully treated by removing the implant.

Medsafe said three cases of ALCL had been reported to it.

New Zealand Association of Plastic Surgeons president John Kenealy said women with implants should examine their breasts for signs of swelling.

It was not known what causes the cancer, although bacterial contamination is one theory.

Mr Kenealy said surgeons discussed the benefits and risks of implants with patients.

Medical regulators in Australia have upgraded their advice about the risk, ABC reported.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration said as many as one in 1000 Australian women who get breast implants will develop ALCL.

It was previously believed the risk was somewhere between one in three million and one in 50,000.

Surgeons urged women with breast implants not to panic. Australasian College of Cosmetic Surgery's Dr Daniel Fleming told ABC the vast majority of women with breast implants would not get ALCL.