Potential Cancer Connection from Breast Implants
In this week’s Law Matters column, the RMB Compensation division looks at the potential link between breast implants and cancer.
In January 2011, the US Food and Drug Administration and the Australian Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA) noted the possibility of a very small but increased risk of women with breast implants developing Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (ALCL).
Breast implant-associated ALCL is a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma which may cause symptoms such as pain or swelling in the breast or a lump in the breast or armpit.
These symptoms may occur soon after a breast implant is inserted, or years later. It may develop with different types of implants inserted for cosmetic or medical reasons.
The condition may be cured with removal of the implant and surrounding capsule but in some cases it may be more aggressive.
In May 2018 the TGA noted that 72 cases of ALCL in Australian patients had been reported. Some of these cases were not curable.
Acknowledgement of a link between breast implants and ALCL raises a number of questions: Are potential implant recipients being informed of the risk before making a decision about implants? Would they have still undergone the procedure if they knew of the risk? Are past implant recipients being warned of the symptoms to look for?
People diagnosed with ALCL may wonder whether they are able to take legal action. They may be incurring expenses for investigating their symptoms and for treatment. They may require time off work for treatment and assistance from family or friends afterwards. They may endure pain and suffering and be left with permanent disability and scarring.
Responsibility may lie with the implant manufacturer, if it can be proven that the product was defective and caused someone to suffer an injury. Further, medical practitioners may be considered responsible if they failed to warn their patient of a particular risk.
A medical practitioner should obtain informed consent from their patient before performing a procedure. This means that a patient should be provided with relevant information about the benefits and risks of different forms of treatment and different types of products to be used during that treatment, such as different types of breast implants.
If you have breast implants and develop any unusual symptoms, you should seek medical advice as soon as possible. You can contact us. We'll be able to help you via a quick phone call, ask us a question via email.