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Cancer survivors face dilemma over banned breast implants linked to rare lymphoma – CBC.ca

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Dona Murphy was finally feeling relieved. Eight years after being diagnosed with breast cancer and having a mastectomy, her oncologist declared her cancer-free.

Then in November, she received a couriered letter from the hospital where she had her surgery, delivering some shocking news: The breast implant used during her reconstruction was now banned by Health Canada.

Last May, Health Canada pulled a type of textured breast implant off the market, following a joint investigation by CBC News, Radio-Canada, the Toronto Star and the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

The product — specifically macro-textured Biocell implants, made by Allergan — has been linked to a rare form of lymphoma known as breast-implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma, or BIA-ALCL.

Health Canada says it’s a “serious but rare type of lymphoma,” with the agency pegging the risk of BIA-ALCL at one in 3,565 (0.03%) for the Biocell implants. In Canada, more than 30 women have been diagnosed with BIA-ALCL.

Dona Murphy reads a letter from the hospital where she underwent a mastectomy after being diagnosed with breast cancer; it informed her that the implant used in the surgery has since been banned by Health Canada. (CBC)

Regulators in both Canada and the U.S. don’t recommend that women with the implants have them removed because the cancer is so rare. But they say women should check with their doctor if they have any symptoms, which include pain and swelling.

Paying for peace of mind?

While Murphy has no symptoms from her textured implant, she wants the device removed from her body. But the Ontario government has said that if the implant doesn’t affect her health, it’s up to her to pay to have it taken out.

“I can’t imagine why any woman would want to have it in them if there’s a potential — no matter how small — of causing cancer,” she said.

Patricia Mailman has two textured implants, put in after undergoing a double mastectomy in Halifax as part of her cancer treatment. When she found out about the ban, she too immediately wanted her implants replaced with non-textured ones.

She doesn’t have $10,000 needed to pay a plastic surgeon to have the explant done, she said, so she’s on a waiting list to have the Nova Scotia government pay, because the implants are causing her pain.

“We didn’t ask for the cancer in the first place, so we didn’t really ask for this either,” Mailman said.

Patricia Mailman had textured implants put in years ago after a double mastectomy. (CBC)

Textured breast implants were used in thousands of procedures in Canada beginning in 2006, with the pebble-like surface intended to act as a kind of Velcro, preventing the implant from sliding on the chest well.

The medical community started linking some breast implants to cancer in 2011.

BIA-ALCL is not breast cancer, but rather lymphoma that grows in the scar tissue surrounding the breast. It grows slowly and can usually be successfully treated by surgically removing the implants.

Risks involved with removal

Dr. Michael Weinberg, a plastic surgeon in Toronto, estimates he’s implanted about 100 pairs of textured implants. Now because of the ban, he says some of his former patients are scared, worried and asking for his advice.

“They are very emotional and I completely understand how they feel really badly,” he said.

Weinberg cautions that removing implants is a significant operation, both in terms of medical risks, as well as cosmetically.

The risks of implant removal include:

  • Infection.
  • Bleeding.
  • Scarring.

“You can’t guarantee when the implant is under the muscle that you’ll be able to take the whole capsule out,” said Weinberg, or the surrounding scar tissue that can stick to the ribs.

Still, for some women, the thought of possibly developing cancer is a worse risk.

Murphy is scheduled to have her implant removed in March, paying for it out of her own pocket. But, she points out, that’s something a lot of women can’t afford to do.

Cancer survivors are faced with difficult decisions months after textured implants were banned because of a rare cancer risk. The women must decide if the risks and costs of having implants removed outweigh the risk of leaving them in. 2:19

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Horse race marks Sydney’s emergence from long COVID-19 lockdown

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Thousands of Sydney residents flocked to a prominent horse race on Saturday, as Australia’s biggest city emerges from a strict COVID-19 lockdown and the nation begins to live with the coronavirus through extensive vaccination.

Up to 10,000 fully vaccinated spectators can now attend races such as The Everest https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/horse-racing-third-time-lucky-nature-strip-everest-2021-10-16 in Sydney, Australia’s richest turf horse race, and the country’s most famous, Melbourne Cup Day, on Nov. 2.

New South Wales State, of which Sydney is the capital, reached its target of 80% of people fully vaccinated on Saturday, well ahead of the rest of Australia.

“80% in NSW! Been a long wait but we’ve done it,” New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet said on Twitter.

The state reported 319 new coronavirus cases, all of the Delta variant, and two deaths on Saturday. Many restrictions were eased in New South Wales on Monday, when it reached 70% double vaccinations.

Neighbouring Victoria, where the capital Melbourne has been in lockdown for weeks, reported 1,993 new cases and seven deaths, including the state’s youngest victim, a 15-year-old girl.

Victoria is expected to reach 70% double vaccination before Oct. 26 and ease its restrictions more slowly than New South Wales has, drawing criticism from the federal government on Saturday.

“It is really sad that Victorians are being held back,” said Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

Australia is set to gradually lift its 18-month ban on international travel https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/covid-19-infections-linger-near-record-levels-australias-victoria-2021-10-14 from next month for some states when 80% of people aged 16 and over are fully vaccinated. As of Friday, 67.2% of Australians were fully inoculated, and 84.4% had received at least one shot.

The country closed its international borders in March 2020, since then allowing only a limited number of people to leave or citizens and permanent residents abroad to return, requiring them to quarantine for two weeks.

Australia’s overall coronavirus numbers are low compared to many other developed countries, with just over 140,000 cases and 1,513 deaths.

(Reporting in Melbourne by Lidia Kelly; Editing by William Mallard)

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Canada heading for flu season in the middle of fourth wave of COVID-19 – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Laura Osman, The Canadian Press


Published Friday, October 15, 2021 1:09PM EDT


Last Updated Friday, October 15, 2021 4:34PM EDT

OTTAWA – The country could be heading for its first typical flu season since the pandemic began, even as health systems are still battling the fourth wave of COVID-19, Canada’s top doctor warns.

Last year the flu was “virtually non-existent,” in Canada, thanks to strict public health measures to protect against COVID-19, chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said Friday.

What served as a blessing last fall, sparing already overwhelmed health systems, could now mean Canadians have less immunity against common strains of the flu.

Surveillance data from the Public Health Agency of Canada shows higher rates of infection than expected for some of Canada’s most common seasonal viruses: respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV. and human parainfluenza.

“This year we are anticipating a possible flu resurgence, due to lower levels of immunity in the population as a result of less circulation last flu season, and the easing of some restrictive, community-based public health measures,” Tam said.

Even during non-pandemic times, flu season has been known to bring hospitals to their knees, overcrowding emergency rooms and intensive care units.

Now, with some hospitals already at capacity and staff across the country burnt out by a year and a half of providing pandemic care, an intense flu season could be especially dire.

“This is definitely not the year to have influenza wreak havoc,” Tam said.

That’s why public health officials say it will be more important than ever that people get flu shots to avoid complications like pneumonia and protect hospitals from becoming overloaded.

On Oct. 7, The National Advisory Committee on Immunization suggested the flu vaccine can be given any time before or after – or even at the same time as – the COVID-19 vaccine, so there’s no reason to postpone either shot.

It’s too early to say how severe the flu season is likely to be, but pediatric hospitals are already feeling the ill effects.

The emergency room at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario is packed to the level the hospital would normally see at the peak of flu season.

The surge has been driven partly by routine injuries, but also from a “potpourri” of viruses, including RSV, said Tammy DeGiovanni, the hospital’s senior vice-president of clinical services and chief nurse executive.

Because of COVID-19, she said, CHEO has had to cancel surgeries and add to already length backlogs. Flu cases would only compound that problem further and create lengthy waits for non-urgent care.

“What we worry about is our capacity and our ability to staff,” DeGiovanni said in an interview Friday. “What we try not to do, but we’ve been forced to, are some cancellations.”

A similar situation is playing out at other children’s hospitals as well, she said.

Tam said the federal government has been bolstering health-care systems throughout the pandemic by ensuring emergency aid from the Canadian Armed Forces and the Canadian Red Cross, but the solution is not sustainable.

“Health-care capacity cannot be generated overnight, and particularly things like ICU capacity,” Tam said.

“People need to do everything they can to reduce both COVID and other respiratory viruses in order to keep our system going.”

Tam’s deputy, Dr. Howard Njoo, said one of the silver linings of the pandemic may be the prevalence of flu prevention measures, like hand-sanitation stations and mask wearing.

“Hopefully these types of behaviors will carry on long past … COVID-19 and become part of normal healthy behaviors to protect yourselves in the future against other respiratory infections, including annual flu.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 15, 2021

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New Zealand vaccinates 2.5% of its people in a day in drive to live with COVID-19

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New Zealand vaccinated at least 2.5% of its people on Saturday as the government tries to accelerate inoculations and live with COVID-19, preliminary health ministry data showed.

Through an array of strategies, gimmicks and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s encouragement through the day, 124,669 shots were administered by late in the day in a country of 4.9 million.

“We set a target for ourselves, Aotearoa, you’ve done it, but let’s keep going,” Ardern said, using a Maori name for New Zealand at a vaccination site, according to the Newshub news service. “Let’s go for 150 [thousand]. Let’s go big or go home.”

New Zealand had stayed largely virus-free for most of the pandemic until an outbreak of the Delta Variant in mid-August. The government now aims to have the country live with COVID-19 through higher inoculations.

Forty-one new cases were reported on Saturday, 40 of them in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city. It has been in lockdown since mid-August to stamp out the Delta outbreak. Officials plan to end the strict restrictions when full vaccination rates reach 90%.

As of Friday, 62% of New Zealand’s eligible population had been fully vaccinated and 83% had received one shot.

Vaccination spots were set up on Saturday throughout the country, including at fast-food restaurants and parks, with some spots offering sweets afterwards, local media reported.

“I cannot wait to come and play a concert, I want to be sweaty and dancing and maybe not even wearing masks. Hopefully we can get there,” said pop singer Lorde, according to local media.

“Protect your community, get yourself a little tart, perhaps a little cream bun,” she said. “But please, please get that jab.”

Final results of the mass vaccination drive are expected to be released on Sunday.

 

(Reporting by Lidia Kelly in Melbourne; Rditing by William Mallard)

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