Metal-on-metal hip replacement patients at no more risk of developing cancer

April 3, 2012

Patients who have had metal-on-metal hip replacements are no more likely to develop cancer in the first seven years after surgery than the general population, although a longer-term study is required, a study published in the British Medical Journal today claims.

A recent and BBC Newsnight investigation looked into the potentially high level of from failing which may, in future, affect thousands of people around the world. The investigation also looked at why these hip replacements were allowed despite the risks being known and documented for decades. The BMJ has a large collection of articles about the safety of medical devices which can be found here: http://www.bmj.com/article-clusters.

This study, commissioned by the National Joint Registry of England and Wales and carried out by authors from the Universities of Bristol and Exeter, looks at whether these concerns are valid. The registry contains records of over one million procedures from at least 97% of orthopaedic units. Every year registry data and hospital episode statistics are linked up to check how patients who have had joint replacements are faring.

In this study in patients with metal-on-metal hip replacements were compared with both a group of patients who had other hip bearing surfaces implanted and the general population. Overall, 14% (40 576) of registered patients had some type of metal-on-metal bearing surface: 7% (21 264) had a stemmed metal-on-metal and 7% (19 312) had a resurfacing procedure. The researchers compared patients' outcomes using mathematical modelling. The models included the age and sex of the patient as well as three measures of general health at the time of (the American Society of Anaesthesiologists grade that scores the patient's other serious illnesses, the number of distinct diagnostic codes recorded at time of surgery, and the number of NHS funded admissions to hospital in the previous five years). The authors do say, however, that comparison with the general population is not straightforward as hip replacement patients "tend to be healthier than others of the same gender and age group".

Results show that the chance of a 60 year old man with moderate health and a metal-on-metal stemmed hip replacement being diagnosed with cancer in the five years following surgery is 6.2%, compared to 6.7% chance with hip replacement using other bearing surfaces. For women, these figures were 4.0% for metal-on-metal stemmed hip replacement and 4.4% for other bearing surfaces. Further results show that the incidence of cancer diagnosis is low after hip replacement and lower than that predicted for the age and sex matched general population.

The authors hope that this study will help clinicians reassure patients that the "risk of cancer for patients is relatively low" with no evidence of an increase in cancer associated with metal-on-metal hips. They add though that this only shows results for up to seven years following surgery and the analysis of long-term data is required over the next few decades as some cancers take many years to develop.

Explore further: UK says metal hip replacements more troublesome

Related Stories

UK says metal hip replacements more troublesome

September 16, 2011
(AP) -- People who get metal hip replacements are more likely to need a replacement compared to those who get a traditional plastic one, according to a new report from a large British registry.

New hip implants no better than traditional implants

November 30, 2011
New hip implants appear to have no advantage over traditional implants, suggests a review of the evidence published in the British Medical Journal today.

Latest data confirms high failure rates for metal-on-metal hip replacements

March 12, 2012
Ten days after the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) announced that patients who have received stemmed metal-on-metal (MOM) hip replacements will need annual check-ups, The Lancet publishes "unequivocal ...

Lifelong checks for metal hip implant patients

March 1, 2012
The UK government's health regulator has advised new checks for patients who have undergone large head metal-on-metal hip replacements, following a major investigation by Newcastle University engineers.

Recommended for you

Drug suppresses spread of breast cancer caused by stem-like cells

December 12, 2017
Rare stem-like tumor cells play a critical role in the spread of breast cancer, but a vulnerability in the pathway that powers them offers a strategy to target these cells using existing drugs before metastatic disease occurs, ...

MRI scans predict patients' ability to fight the spread of cancer

December 12, 2017
A simple, non-invasive procedure that can indicate how long patients with cancer that has spread to the brain might survive and whether they are likely to respond to immunotherapy has been developed by researchers in Liverpool.

A new weapon against bone metastasis? Team develops antibody to fight cancer

December 11, 2017
In the ongoing battle between cancer and modern medicine, some therapeutic agents, while effective, can bring undesirable or even dangerous side effects. "Chemo saves lives and improves survival, but it could work much better ...

Insights on how SHARPIN promotes cancer progression

December 11, 2017
Researchers at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery (SBP) and the Technion in Israel have found a new role for the SHARPIN protein. In addition to being one of three proteins in the linear ubiquitin chain assembly complex ...

Glioblastoma survival mechanism reveals new therapeutic target

December 11, 2017
A Northwestern Medicine study, published in the journal Cancer Cell, has provided new insights into a mechanism of tumor survival in glioblastoma and demonstrated that inhibiting the process could enhance the effects of radiation ...

Liver cancer: Lipid synthesis promotes tumor formation

December 11, 2017
Lipids comprise an optimal energy source and an important cell component. Researchers from the Biozentrum of the University of Basel and from the University of Geneva have now discovered that the protein mTOR stimulates the ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.