People who have had a metal on metal hip replacement are no more likely to develop cancer within the first 7 years following the surgery than the rest of the population. This was confirmed in a recent research study published by the British Medical Journal.
Tiny ions of cobalt and chromium can break off from the implant and enter the blood stream. There are fears that this could then lead to bone and muscle damage and even neurological issues.
The study looked at the high levels of toxic metals that can appear in the blood of people where their metal on metal hip replacement has failed. Potentially this can affect thousands of people who have had the surgery.
The research was commissioned by the National Joint Registry of England and Wales and was carried out by the University of Bristol and Exeter.
In this particular study the cancer rates of people who had had a metal on metal hip replacement were compared with people who had had another type of implant and also with the general population.
A second study has also been published which again found no evidence of a link to cancer. This compared metal on metal hip patients with patients who had received replacements where the ball is metal but the socket is plastic. This study monitored patients between 6 and 14 years and found no increased link to cancer.
It is hoped that the research will help practitioners to reassure their patients that there is no evidence of an increased cancer link following a metal on metal hip replacement procedure. It was stressed however, that further research may be required and the situation should be monitored over a longer period of time as some forms of cancer can take several years to develop.
Gary Walker, a solicitor specialising in defective medical devices who is currently investigating claims for more than 100 patients whose hip implants have failed says “Whilst these studies do offer some reassurance to patients I have spoken to many people who continue to have fears over what further evidence may come out in the future. They underwent hip replacements to improve their quality of life and many are now left much worse and extremely worried about the potential long-term consequences the metal ions will have on their health. I hope that further research and monitoring will continue to provide the reassurance that our clients are seeking.”