Cancer linked to breast implants more common than thought

It's been revealed a rare cancer linked to breast implants is much more common than previously thought.

According to Australian health authorities, as many as one-in-1000 women who have implants are at risk.

Anaplastic large cell lymphoma is a rare type of lymphoma that develops near breast implants.

Plastic Surgeons Association president John Kenealy says it's not a breast cancer, but rather a cancer linked to bacteria-contaminated implants. 

"It occurs under the breast because the implant is always under the breast, and it occurs in the scar tissue, which normally forms around the breast implant."

It had been believed the risk was somewhere between one-in-3 million and one-in-50,000, but Australian health authorities now say it could be between one-in-10,000 and one-in-1000.

Ten cases of anaplastic large cell lymphoma have been diagnosed in New Zealand.

But the Breast Cancer Foundation says women shouldn't be alarmed.

"It's quite rare. People should not be worried, but if there's any form of sudden swelling or a lump forming, they need to get it seen straight away," Breast Cancer Foundation's Evangelia Henderson says.

Mr Kenealy says the cancer is treated relatively easily, and most cases are cured by removal of the implant and scar tissue.

"Certainly the expert opinion at the present time is there's no indication to remove the implants, but obviously women need to be vigilant of their breasts in exactly the same way whether or not they have implants."