Meet the Mater Gynaecology Oncology Team

February is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month held to educate people on the disease as it is still one of the deadliest women’s cancers. Every day in Australia, four women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and sadly three will die.

Meet Gynaecology Oncology Clinical Nurse Consultant Bronwyn Jennings who is working on the frontline treating patients from all over Queensland, Northern Territory and northern New South Wales with the disease.

Bronwyn explains how she helps patients throughout their cancer journey from referrals, care planning, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, surgery and their return home for recovery.

“We are the main contact point for the patient helping them to navigate their journey and along the way we provide them with advice and emotional support,” she said.

“The hospital receives around 90 new referrals each month as we are one of three gynaecology and oncology services in Queensland, taking on more complex cases and specialist care.”  

Bronwyn has been working in in cancer nursing for thirteen years and says she loves her role as it is always evolving. 

“I have always found cancer nursing fascinating; it’s such an innovative space where there are always new treatments and that gives us hope to continue,” she said.

“But there is always more that we can do, research and education on ovarian cancer is so important as there are so many misconceptions about the disease out there.

“Many people still believe their pap smears will detect the cancer or the HPV vaccine will prevent this, sadly both are untrue. The symptoms are very vague so we encourage people to be wary of them.”

She says early detection still gives patients with ovarian cancer the best survival outcomes with stage one and two cancers having a 90 per cent survival rate however stage three and four cancers have less than 17 per cent survival rates.

“For women who are having treatment I think it’s important for them to understand they are not alone, and to reach out to support services if they need to,” she said.

“We want women to feel empowered to ask questions, never assume your clinical team is too busy to talk to you.”

Finally recognising the symptoms of the disease can be live saving, the Ovarian Cancer Network has the following advice,

Signs and Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer

  • Increased abdominal size or persistent abdominal bloating
  • Abdominal or pelvic (lower tummy) pain
  • Feeling full after eating a small amount
  • Needing to urinate often or urgently

Additional Symptoms

  • Changes in bowel habits
  • Unexplained weight gain or loss
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Lower back pain
  • Indigestion or nausea
  • Bleeding after menopause or in-between periods
  • Pain during sex or bleeding after

It is important to remember all the symptoms mentioned can be caused by other, less serious medical conditions. However, if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, which are persistent and troublesome, you should see your doctor, and if appropriate get rapidly referred to a gynaecological oncologist. They will be able to examine you and if necessary, do further tests to find the cause of your problems. Click here to find out more about ovarian cancer.

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