Faulty breast implants are at the centre of an international health scare that has led to some women undergoing surgery to have the items removed.
Acting health minister, Nicola Roxon, has urged Australian women with implants from the French company Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) to seek medical advice or call the government hotline after concerns were raised by global medical authorities.
Speaking to reporters in Melbourne over the weekend, she said: "We do need to make it clear to women that our current advice is that there is no particular additional risk," she told reporters in Melbourne over the weekend.
"But one of our concerns is, in Australia, we do not and cannot easily identify today which women have had which implants."
Ms Roxon used the press meeting as an opportunity to reassure women regulatory standards for the cosmetic devices remained high, which meant that any increase in the risk of cancer for procedures undertaken within the country remained relatively low.
Her comments come as more and more women are speaking out against the products, with recent reports suggesting that two local law firms may be considering class actions against the provider.
According to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) just over 9,000 PIP units were implanted by surgeons in Australia between 2002 and April 2010 – the product line was later recalled and is no longer available to consumers.
The TGA said that research from the US shows that long-term rupture rates for silicone breast implants are about 1.0 per cent per year.
And while a number of women have spoken out against PIP implants, it seems that the current rupture rate for the units in Australia in the last ten years falls within this range.
In an official statement the organisation said it had received 37 reports of ruptures that were a direct result of PIP breast implants.
"This equates to a rate of 0.4 per cent of PIP implants inserted in Australia over the past decade," it wrote.
Yet despite government attempts to reassure women and advise that the risks of developing cancer are "minimal", recent figures generated by the Department of Health and Ageing show that more than 1,000 calls have been made to the free hotline expressing their concerns over the products.
In December last year the French government advised 30,000 women with PIP breast implants to have them removed amid fears of rupture, after the death of one woman in 2010.
The Dutch Health Inspectorate (IGZ) has called for a similar course of action and it is unclear whether other European nations will follow suit.
Women seeking additional information on the health risks associated with implants can contact the Breast Implant Information Line at 1800 217 257 or read the latest updates on the TGA website www.tga.gov.au.
Photo credit: ABC News http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-01-15/breast-implant-register/3773360