Leigh Day is this week to send letters before action on behalf of women who claim they were not warned of the potential dangers before having a type of cosmetic breast implant.
The Allergan Biocell textured implants have been linked to a rare form of cancer called anaplastic large cell lymphoma, BIA-ALCL.
The London and Manchester law firm said it has received enquires from over 350 women who have the implants. Eleven of the women it represents have developed BIA-ALCL.
The letters are being sent to the manufacturer and clinics who supplied the implants notifying the potential defendants of the claim and that the women are seeking recovery of the cost of removal of the implants and compensation for the personal injury, distress and any consequent financial loss.
It will be the first legal action in the UK by women who have BIA-ALCL and those who claim they were not properly warned about the risks from the implants.
According to an article in the Sunday Express last week, American research published in November 2008 uncovered “an association” between cosmetic breast implants and BIA-ALCL, but the implants were only withdrawn from the market last December.
In 2016 the link was formally classified by the World Health Organisation and BIA-ALCL classified as a disease.
The newspaper said a soon-to-be-published US study of 6,023 breast reconstruction procedures in 3,546 women concluded that one in 443 given textured implants were at risk of developing ALCL.
According to the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority the risk of developing ALCL linked to breast implants is 1 in 24,000. The authority said there was “currently no evidence of an increased risk to patients and there is no need for people who have Allergan breast implants to get them removed or have any additional clinical follow-up”.
But Leigh Day said experts believed this figure was likely to be an underestimate because the watchdog did not monitor all women who have had the procedure.
Associate Sarah Moore said “alarm bells should have gone off much earlier”. Though stressing that the risk of developing this type of cancer was low, she said it was also “an entirely avoidable type of cancer” given that the implants were mostly used for cosmetic reasons.
“Given the seriousness of this cancer and the fact this was a cosmetic procedure, it is a scandal that these types of implants have been used for so long.”
The cancer, which forms in the scar capsule around the implant, normally begins with pain and swelling in the breast. Women who have the implants and capsules removed can make a full recovery, but if left untreated the disease can spread throughout the body and become fatal.