As French authorities issue cancer alert, thousands of British women have been told to get their breast implants removed in case they are worried. The French government is to bear the cost for tens of thousands of women to have their breast implants removed, amid fears they are at a heightened risk of cancer.
However, a similar number of British women who also have the controversial implants face hefty surgical bills for the same treatment. The row comes amid growing concern about the safety of the French-made implants, filled with a silicone gel, which is believed to have been made for the purpose of mattresses.
Edwige Ligoneche was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer two years after having breast surgery using a French-made silicone gel. The French government told all women with the implants on Tuesday to have them taken out. It also said it would foot the entire bill in up to 30,000 cases.
But the lack of any similar scheme in the UK has led to accusations that British women, including breast cancer survivors, are being left in limbo. Up to 50,000 women in the UK have the Poly Implant Protheses, or PIPs, which were among the cheapest in the market and widely used in cosmetic clinics both here and abroad.
UK Government advice is that any woman who is concerned about her implants should speak to the surgeon that put them in. According to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, there is insufficient evidence to indicate any association with the implants and cancer.
But Douglas McGeorge, of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, said that PIP implants have a "higher failure rate".
"People with PIP implants do have a higher failure rate and there is a significant risk at some point they might rupture," the Daily Mail quoted McGeorge as saying. "If this is a worry for patients, the sensible thing to do is to get them replaced earlier rather than later," he said.
The National Health Service (NHS) does take out damaged implants but doesn't pay for new ones to be put in, meaning patients could be left with a bill that runs into tens of thousands of pounds, as well as the trauma of additional surgery.