A defective silicone gel breast implant.
A defective silicone gel breast implant manufactured by French company Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) is seen near surgical instruments after being removed from a patient. REUTERS

Over 6,000 women suspected to be carrying breast implants with substandard silicone have been contacted by the Department of Health so far and found that at least seven per cent of them require immediate implant removal.

A total of 5,232 women with private PIP implants and 744 women with NHS PIP implants have been contacted till 18 March, 2012. Out of this, 298 from the private PIP implant and 126 from the NHS implants require implant removal.

As many as 75 of private implants and 21 of the NHS implants have been removed till date, according to data released by the Department of Health on Friday.

At least 7,000 to 10,000 women are projected to be victims of the PIP breast implant scandal, a scare in which it has been found that substandard silicone was used to fill the implants.

Earlier, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley had asked women with implants made by the French company Poly Implant Prosthese (PIP) and done prior to 2001 to visit surgeons.

An estimate suggests that more than 40,000 women in the UK have had PIP implants, which is suspected to be filled with an industrial grade silicone used in mattresses.

The French authorities had been maintaining that the practice of filling substandard silicone in implants began in 2001.

An expert investigation into the PIP scandal by NHS Medical Director Sir Bruce Keogh reported lack of evidence of harm to justify routine removal. There is also no evidence to suggest that leaking industrial grade silicone is causing cancer.

Some studies have pointed out the possibility of the coating of the implant releasing a cancer-causing toxin into the body over a period of time.

NHS has offered women who had an implant following mastectomy for breast cancer on the NHS removal and replacement, but some private clinics have refused to fall in line.