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Silicone breast implants called into question

December 2011

News stories linking a brand of silicone breast implant to cancer may be creating unwarranted alarm among women who have had implants.

According to media reports, the French government plans to recommend to 30,000 French women that they remove silicone implants supplied by the now defunct company, Poly Implant Prosthese (PIP). The advice follows reports that eight women who have the implants have been diagnosed with cancer, mainly breast cancer.

However, looking at the figures from France, eight cases from 30,000 implants represents one in 3750. This rate provides weak evidence for a link between the implants and cancer.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) advises that about 8900 PIP devices have been implanted in Australian women.

The same silicone implants were called into question last year by French authorities. They were tested in Australia by the TGA in 2010 and the shell and contents were found to meet international standards.

There have also been reports of the implants causing ruptures. The TGA has received 45 reports relating to PIP implants, 39 of which relate to rupture. It notes that the cause of rupture may be due to factors other than the device itself.

The TGA is an Australian Government body responsible for regulating therapeutic goods in Australia. Products are tested for safety by the TGA before they are allowed into the Australian market. 

Cancer Council supports the advice of the TGA and recommends Australian women who have had the implants and have concerns should contact their treating surgeon.

This page was last updated on: Tuesday, August 7, 2012