Breast cancer fears for French implant failures

Date: Dec 28, 2011

A French manufacturer is the subject of several ongoing legal actions after it was found that the firm made use of industrial silicone in breast implants rather than medical-grade materials.

There have been a number of cases worldwide where the cosmetic devices have subsequently been linked to a rare form of cancer – anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL).

Tumours have been found to form in scar tissue surrounding the implants, resulting in painful lumps in the breast that could spread throughout the rest of the body.

According to reports there have been 80 cases of ALCL found in women fitted with the industrial silicone prosthetics – seven of which were in Australia.

While the cancer is known to affect around one in 500,000 women each year, the high rate found to exist between breast implant patients fitted with this particular model could be a cause for concern.

The company responsible for the manufacture of the silicone devices is medical concern Poly Implant Prosthese (PIP) which has since been closed down.

An investigation began into the business after it was found that the implants were constructed with silicone compounds that did not meet the standards required by French medical authorities.

In addition the particular models were also shown by the authorities to have a rate of internal rupturing that was higher than average.

It has been estimated that as many as 400,000 patients have been equipped with this particular brand of implants – as PIP was once ranked the third-largest medical manufacturer in the world.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) said around 8,900 units of PIP enhancement products have been used by women in Australia.

The TGA has said that of these known patients, 39 have reported cases of internal rupturing – with victims' implants spilling their contents inside people's bodies, exposing them to the industrial-grade silicone.

While French authorities have linked the use of PIP implants to a number of cases of ALCL – with one resulting in the death of a 53-year-old woman in Marseille – the Australian administrative body says no cases of the cancer have been reported to date with a positive link to the manufacturer.

The TGA is investigating the cases on hand but says that the implants were thoroughly tested before they were approved for use in local patients – resulting in a rupture rate that was below the regulatory standard.

In a statement the administrative organisation asserted: "It should be noted that the cause of rupture may be due to factors other than the device itself."

It also suggested that concerned patients should seek a consultation with their plastic surgeon if they have any concerns – rather than immediately filing for compensation with a medical negligence lawyer,  or having the devices removed immediately.

In cases where legal advice is required for ruptured breast implants or other complications, a no win no fee law firm can help to ensure that patients can have their questions addressed directly in a phone interview or in a face-to-face consultation.

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