Cancer warnings could be placed on all breast implants ten years after scandal that made women ‘die in silence’
Ministers are considering putting a cancer warning on all breast implants a decade after women got “a cocktail of chemicals meant for mattresses” in their bodies.
Experts and MPs are calling for stricter regulation and better support after the PIP breast implants scandal left women – including breast cancer survivors – to ‘suffer and die in silence’.
Health Secretary Maria Caulfield promised on Monday to consider a so-called “black-box” warning on the packaging of breast implants, as in the US.
She said women “should be made aware” that “any breast implant has the potential to cause a very rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma.”
Horror experience: Yvonne Murphy (pictured) said the years of anxiety and health problems that followed getting PIP implants in 2008 were “the worst experience of my life”
‘They gave me health problems for years’
Mother of four Yvonne Murphy got PIP implants in 2008.
The 47-year-old said the years of anxiety and health problems that followed were “the worst experience of my life.”
When the scandal surfaced, she tried to have them removed, but the private company that placed them – Hospital Medical Group – told her she would have to pay £3,500 for replacements.
Mrs Murphy, from St Albans, Hertfordshire, said: ‘I remember the first year everything was in the news  – I didn’t sleep, I didn’t eat. I still had the implants in and I had no idea what they were doing to me.’
She turned to the NHS and had them removed in August 2012, but by then a lump had formed in her lymph node and required emergency surgery. Ms Murphy said it took doctors a year to say in her medical notes that the lump had been caused by silicone leaking from the implant.
Since then she has had cancer four times and is registered disabled with pain condition Fibromyalgia. She believes her ongoing problems are related to the PIP implants, but says doctors refuse to confirm this.
It came during a debate over the faulty breast implant scandal in which 47,000 British women received ‘ticking time bomb’ implants from Poly Implant Prothese (PIP).
PIP implants were banned in 2010 when it was revealed that they were made with substandard silicone and were up to six times more likely to rupture.
Victims of the scandal have reported a wide range of serious side effects, which experts say are linked to a range of health problems, including the new cancer.
PIP campaign co-founder Jan Spivey, 61, was given the implants as part of reconstructive surgery after breast cancer.
She said, “I thought the reconstruction would be part of the procedure to save my life. internal bleeding that required another emergency operation and I had a pulmonary embolism that nearly killed me.”
Dr. Henry Dijkman, who has studied the effects of a wide variety of silicone implants, said: ‘We know there are between 50 and 80 symptoms because silicones are toxic and can really activate the immune system.
‘Cancer is the most serious symptom. Silicone causes stress in the cell and if a cell is under a lot of stress, this can lead to mutations and eventually you can get cancer.’
Anyone with a PIP implant can officially apply to have it removed by the NHS, but Labor MP Fleur Anderson said: ‘Many applications have been rejected, leaving women with a ticking time bomb inside their bodies.
“They can’t afford to have their implants removed privately, fear they will rupture further and experience obvious side effects.”
Since 2012 Ms. Murphy has had cancer four times and is registered disabled with pain condition Fibromyalgia
The MHRA acknowledged the risk of cancer for all breast implants, but said PIP implants are not at greater risk than others.
A spokesperson said: ‘PIP implants have a higher risk of rupture, which can lead to unpleasant symptoms, but ruptured implants do not pose a serious health risk. We continue to monitor the safety of all breast implants, including PIP breast implants.
“We are continually reviewing adverse events reported to us, as well as published literature and other data sources, to determine whether reports may indicate increased or previously unrecognized risks.
“As more risks are identified, we will take appropriate action to ensure these are communicated to patients so that they can make informed choices.
“If you are a patient or healthcare provider, please report any issues related to PIP implants to us so that we can continue to monitor them closely.”