French women may need faulty breast implants removed

A defective silicone gel breast implant, which was removed from a patient and manufactured by French company Poly Implant Prothese
Image caption Cases in which the defective implants have leaked have sparked concern

French authorities say they will decide this week whether to ask 30,000 women given a potentially defective type of breast implant to have them removed.

Earlier reports said a decision to call for removal had already been made.

There are concerns that the implants supplied by Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) carry potential health risks, according to the newspaper, Liberation.

PIP was found last year to have used a non-authorised silicone gel that caused abnormally high implant rupture rates.

The French government has formed a special committee to look at the issue.

"We have to remove all these implants," Dr Laurent Lantieri, a plastic surgeon on the committee, told Liberation. "We're facing a health crisis, linked to a fraud."

Government spokeswoman Valerie Pecresse told French television that a plan of action would be unveiled later this week.

"All women who have PIP implants should return to see their surgeons urgently," she added. But a health ministry official said there was no immediate health risk.

Cancer fears

Investigations by the French Society of Plastic Surgeons last year found that PIP implants had a higher rate of rupture than other implants and that the silicone in them was not meant for medical use.

PIP went into administration last year and the use of its implants was banned.

Police have received 2,000 complaints from women who received the implants and have opened a criminal investigation into the firm, the AFP news agency reports.

Since the defects were discovered, 523 implants have been removed, according to the Le Monde newspaper.

Eight cases of cancer had so far been reported in patients with PIP implants, France's Director General for Health, Jean-Yves Grall, told Liberation. A ninth patient in Gers died of cancer last year.

But the head of France's National Cancer Institute, Dominique Maraninchi, said last week the cases were not necessarily linked to faulty implants.

Mr Grall added that all costs related to the removal of the implants would be reimbursed, although it is not clear if this will extend to paying for replacement implants.

PIP implants were among the cheapest available, and were also exported outside France. It is thought that as many as 40,000 British women may have them.

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