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Cancer Incidence

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 15 October 2019

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Ceisteanna (385)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

385. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Health the number of confirmed instances of cancer regarding breast implants (details supplied); the number of persons contacted and advised on this matter to date by the HSE; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41865/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Breast Implant Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) is a rare type of non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, occurring in individuals who have previously had synthetic breast implants or tissue expanders.

BIA-ALCL is not breast cancer. It is a type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma – a cancer of the immune system.

The Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) has been updating my Department on this matter as further research is published and as evidence continues to emerge at both a European and international level and while the risk of developing BIA-ALCL has been shown to be more common than first thought, it still remains a rare condition.

Breast implant devices and tissue expanders can have various types of surface texturing and the risk of developing BIA ALCL appears to be related to the degree of surface texturing on the breast implant or tissue expander. Other breast implants may have a different risk of developing BIA-ALCL. Implants with a lesser degree of surface texturing appear to have a less common association with BIA-ALCL. A range of breast implants with different degrees of surface texturing have been used in Ireland.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has decided to communicate publicly on this matter at this time in order to increase awareness of BIA ALCL, ensure that women in Ireland are fully informed on this issue and are given the appropriate advice. My Department has been working alongside the HSE in this regard.

On October 9 2019, the HSE published an information notice on their website in relation to this matter. This notice provides further background on BIA ALCL including its relationship with textured breast implants and tissue expanders, signs and symptoms to be aware of, when to seek medical attention and further advice to women who may be affected by this issue.

The HSE will issue letters to people who have received textured breast implants or tissue expanders during surgery in Ireland. These letters will have advice on what the individuals should do if they are concerned. The issuing of these letters by the HSE is due to commence in the coming weeks.

The details referred to in the question relate to an article that appeared in the Irish Independent on October 5, headed “Probe over cancer link to breast implants”. The article wrongly referred to 14 reports of “potential breast cancer illness” related to breast implants having been reported to the Health Products Regulatory Authority. The paper in question subsequently issued a correction, clarifying that the Health Products Regulatory Authority had advised that it had received 14 complaints of breast implant illness. This condition is not related to cancer. Breast implant illness can include joint pain, rashes, memory loss, brain fog and other symptoms. The errors were initially corrected on the online version of the paper and a print correction was published on October 7.

Regarding the number of cases of BIA ALCL identified in Ireland, where there may be a small number of cases only and due to the possible risk of patient identification, I cannot confirm a specific number of cases.

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