Dozens of British women have launched a legal challenge against clinics where they had breast augmentation surgery after it was revealed that the implants used were faulty and could expose them to an increased risk of cancer.
The silicone implants were manufactured by Poly Implant Prostheses (PiP), a French firm which has since gone into administration.
The news comes ahead of an anticipated announcement by the French Government on Friday as to whether some 30,000 French women should have their PiP implants removed. This was after a French woman, Edwige Ligoneche, died from anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL), a rare form of cancer which was found close to the site where her implant had ruptured.
It has since been reported that the firm was using industrial grade silicone designed for use in bed mattresses, instead of the medical grade silicone normally used. The implants also have a higher than average failure rate.
Some 40,000 British women have received the PiP implants in recent years. Some have already had their implants replaced, but others have suffered ruptures which have left then unable to work due to tingling sensations down their arms and in some cases near constant pain. Now the affected women are planning to bring a class action against several clinics.
"You would expect that what they choose to put inside you would be properly tested. You trust their judgement," said Lisa Fernley, who had PiP implants fitted in 2004.
Douglas McGeorge, a consultant plastic surgeon and former president of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons said: "The message is not to panic. Women with PiP implants should be checked by their clinic and monitored afterwards."
A potential link between breast implants and this rare form of cancer was first noted by the American Food and Drug Administration as early as January 2011. However, the UK Medicines and Healthcare product Regulatory Agency (MHRA) have announced that consultations with nine other European Agencies have established no increased risk of disease associated with these implants.
A spokesman from the Department of Health said: "All are agreed that there is no evidence of an increase in cancer risk associated with PiP implants."
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