Fears over hip cancer are allayed

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HIP replacement patients at Wigan’s Wrightington Hospital who were fitted with metal implants are not at risk of cancer according to health experts.

Some 52 patients are believed to have been fitted with metal implants following hip replacement surgery at Wrightington Hospital, which earlier this year brought about warnings of poisoning of the blood.

Since then there had also been reports that the implants could cause cancer, but there is no evidence that metal-on-metal hip replacements increase the risk of cancer according to research carried out by experts at Bristol and Exeter universities.

In February this year, Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust (WWL) revealed that 52 people had been fitted with the metal implants and that they were being monitored following a national outbreak of the implants failing.

Tiny metal ions made up of cobalt and chromium are thought to break off from the implants and leak into the blood, with fears that this leads to muscle and bone damage, and neurological issues.

Cancer risk was just one of the fears linked to the implants.

The data for this study, based on the National Joint Registry of England and Wales, covered 40,576 patients with metal-on-metal hip implants and 248,995 who had other types.

The study found no evidence of an increased risk of any type of cancer in the patients.

However, researchers said “as some cancers have a long latency period it is important that we study the longer-term outcomes and continue to investigate the effects of exposure to orthopaedic metals”.

Last month, experts writing in The Lancet called for all metal-on-metal implants to be banned because of evidence of high failure rates.

In February, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) issued guidance on all metal-on-metal implants, saying 49,000 patients in the UK would need annual blood or MRI checks.

WWL say any worried patients should contact 01257 256372.