Women's Health Week - Breast Care

Women’s Health Week is a nation-wide campaign of events centred on improving women's health. This week we will hear from female clinicians at Mater speaking about female health issues they are passionate about.

We speak with Mater Oncoplastic Breast Surgeon Dr Emma Clarkson and Breast Care Nurses Michelle Hawksworth and Jen Dalton about the evolution of surgical planning for patients with breast cancer and the significant improvement in surgical choice delivered by modern breast surgery.

Dr Emma Clarkson treats women who predominately have breast cancer and explains new and innovative models of care at Mater are helping women through their cancer journey and beyond.

"We have a patient focused and individualised model of care at the Mater Breast Unit and we like to centre women in the decision-making process. Before going anywhere near theatre, it is important to explore suitable surgical options including the pros and cons associated with each option,” Emma said.

“It is also important to allow time to digest and work through the choices, frequently our patients have more than one visit with our team before we start to develop a plan together. We to provide a defined treatment path to incorporate breast preservation techniques or breast reconstruction into the surgical plan right from the start.

“Far fewer patients require a simple mastectomy if the full suite of breast cancer management options is on the table. We are fortunate to be able to provide an all-encompassing breast cancer service for our patients at the Mater.”

Emma explains breast cancer is a more survivable disease these days which is a wonderful thing and it does mean that clinicians have to think carefully about the impact of breast cancer and breast cancer treatments on patients once immediate breast cancer treatments are complete.  

“As patients transition into their survivorship phase, we provide a focus on being well at Mater we are proactively supporting women and with breast cancer to be well using services such as physiotherapy and exercise, dietetics, social work, psychology and breast care nursing promote wellness in our patients,” Emma said.

“Physical and mental deconditioning is a predictable results of cancer therapies than can be mitigated with the right assessments and supports. I believe breast care is something Mater does exceptionally well.

“We as a team are dedicated and passionate about providing the best breast cancer services for our patients. We don’t just abide by gold standards, we create them.”

Breast Care Nurse Michelle Hawksworth explains her role is to advocate on behalf of the patient and support them through their cancer journey helping them to prepare for surgery and connect with support services post-op.

"Our patients need care outside their cancer treatment, Mater takes a multidisciplinary approach to helping patients recover which includes physiotherapy, dietetics, mental health services and more," Michelle said.

Breast Care Nurse Jen Dalton said in addition to these support services they were proud to be running an exercise program called Return to Wellness which is supporting patients during their cancer treatment to help them stay in the best health possible.  

"We have found keeping physically fit and active during your cancer journey to be extremely beneficial for physical and mental health, through Return to Wellness patients can exercise in a supportive environment at their own pace with the support of our care team," Jen said.

To find out more about Mater’s Cancer Care Services please contact 07 3163 5200 or visit the website https://www.mater.org.au/health/services/cancer-services to find out more about Return to Wellness you can speak with your care team.

Public relations contacts

07 3163 6142