By CBS News Staff
French health experts plan to meet Friday to decide what to tell the 30,000 women who have potentially dangerous breast implants.
The implants in question, made by France-based Poly Implant Prothese (PIP), contained a cheaper silicone typically used to make computer parts, CBS News reported. Doctors have been concerned the implants pose a rupture risk due to the weaker material, but now they fear a link to cancer after eight women with the implants were diagnosed.
More than 1,000 of the implants have ruptured, according to the French health and safety agency AFSSAPS. The implants were taken off the market last year after French authorities discovered the company misreported the type of silicone it used.
Friday's decision will depend partly on guidance from the French National Cancer Institute, which is studying whether the implants could increase cancer risk.
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Doctors studying the implants want all women to be able to remove them to avoid future problems - and they want the government to pay.
"We have been trying for more than a year to ensure that women with these implants can have them removed without having financial difficulties," said Dominique-Michel Courtois, a doctor for an association of victims of medical accidents. "We have worried for more than a year."
Courtois expects French authorities to recommend that the implants be removed voluntarily.
Government spokeswoman Valerie Pecresse said state health care would pay for implant removal operations "if it involves a health and public safety emergency."
Whether the state will pay for replacement implants, however, remains to be seen. Nearly 20 percent of French women with the implants got them for medical reasons, mainly after breast cancer.
More than 2,000 women have filed legal complaints since the implants were recalled last year, and an investigation into officials at PIP is under way. Investigators suspect the company cut costs by up to $1.3 million a year with the cheaper silicone.
The French government's decision could reach other countries, including the U.K., where some 40,000 women have PIP implants. British health authorities conducted their own tests, and say they see no reason thus far to get them removed. But the country will continue to work with French health authorities and "will consider any new evidence which comes to light as a priority."
The British Association for Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons said in a statement, "If women are worried or believe that their implants may have ruptured, they should contact their implanting surgeon."
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