As many as 30,000 French women will be warned by the end of the week to have their potentially harmful silicone breast implants removed, Liberation newspaper reported Tuesday.
The advice relates to specific implants manufactured by the now-shuttered Poly Implant Prosthesis (PIP) company, based in southern France. PIP was one of the world's leaders in implant production until it was discovered it used industrial silicone, designed for computers and electronic devices, instead of medical-grade fillers.
The implants were used in some of the estimated half a million surgical breast augmentations carried out in France, as well as many thousands more procedures in countries like the UK and Spain. At least one judicial investigation of involuntary homicide involving a recipient who died from cancer is underway. More cancer cases and hundreds of legal complaints have also been identified.
One leading plastic surgeon, Professor Laurent Lantieri, told the newspaper, "We are faced with a health crisis linked to a scam. The whole profession is aware of it. There is no urgency, there is no need to worry but prevention is the best policy."
The advice is still to be officially confirmed by medical authorities, but government spokeswoman Valerie Pecresse confirmed to LCI television Tuesday that they were, "in the process of evaluating these breast implants, given the cancer risks."
She also reassured women affected by the scandal that the cost of removing the potentially faulty implants and reconstructive surgery would be likely met by the state.
"If this becomes a public health emergency then any surgical costs will be covered by the social security," Pecresse said.