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Metal-on-Metal Hip Implants Not Linked to Cancer

September 28, 2012 — A new study has good news for thousands of people currently implanted with a metal-on-metal hip implant. After seven years, the researchers found no increased risk of cancer. They caution that research needs to continue, because some cancers take several years to develop after exposure to carcinogens. Many people have been concerned that metal-on-metal hip implants could increase the risk of cancer. Several of the devices have been recalled because they can shed toxic particles of metal into a patient’s body, with unknown long-term consequences.

The researchers based their conclusions on an analysis of the U.K. National Joint Registry (NJR). This database tracks the performance of joint implants and patient outcomes. This type of database is essential for understanding the risks, benefits, and effectiveness of medical implants.

The study was conducted because early epidemiological studies indicated a potential increased risk of melanoma, kidney cancer, and prostate cancer associated with metal-on-metal hip implants. However, the NJR researchers did not find the implants associated with cancer. In a statement, they said:

“Due to the age of the NJR we could only assess the risk for the first seven years after hip replacement and are happy to report that we could not identify an increased risk of developing cancer. We must, however, point out that many cancers have prolonged latency after initial exposure to carcinogens and thus long-term follow up is needed to provide a definitive answer.”

Unlike the U.K., the United States lacks a tracking system to monitor the safety and performance of medical device implants. Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires device manufacturers to report adverse events, but manufacturers are not required to announce how many people have received each implant. Furthermore, adverse event reporting is voluntary, and experts estimate that only 10% of events are ever reported. Therefore, it is very difficult for U.S. researchers or regulators to determine the actual failure rate of medical devices.

The FDA has proposed establishing a registry and giving each implant a unique identification number. Until that system is established, the FDA has asked manufacturers to conduct additional studies of metal-on-metal hip implants. These studies will take several years to complete.

The use of metal-on-metal hip implants has declined sharply in recent years, amid high-profile recalls of the DePuy ASR, Stryker ABG II, Stryker Rejuvenate, and other implants. Researchers have warned that the metal-on-metal design is prone to higher rates of side effects and failure than plastic and/or ceramic devices. The grinding metal parts of the device can shed tiny particles of chromium and cobalt into the body. The metal debris can cause non-cancerous soft-tissue growths called pseudotumors, inflammation, bone loss, tissue death, and other painful complications that may require revision surgery. Cobalt ions are highly soluble, travel easily in the bloodstream throughout the body, and have unknown long-term health risks.

Do I have a Metal-on-Metal Hip Implant Lawsuit?

The Schmidt Firm, PLLC is currently accepting metal-on-metal hip implant induced injury cases in all 50 states. If you or somebody you know has been injured by a metal-on-metal hip implant, you should contact our lawyers immediately for a free case consultation. Please use the form below to contact our Defective Medical Device Litigation Group or call toll free 24 hours a day at (866) 920-0753.

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