Optimising care for pregnant women with cancer

1 November 2023 |

Pregnant women with cancer need comprehensive medical care, involving the coordination of services from multidisciplinary teams of health professionals who may be located at different sites.

Currently, care for pregnant women with cancer is often fragmented, with different specialists working independently of each other.

This study sought to identify areas for improvement in patient care, through exploring the views and experiences of health professionals who care for pregnant women with cancer.

Lead Researcher Professor Mark Umstad said 27 health professionals from five Australian states, including obstetricians, oncologists, and allied/ mental health professionals, participated in the study.

They were interviewed about their confidence in caring for pregnant patients with cancer, whether current guidelines and training met their needs, the psychological impacts of providing care to these patients, and whether there are service gaps.

Prof Umstad said the health professionals stated it was often challenging to provide these patients with comprehensive care, particularly when treatment was delivered at geographically separate hospitals. The study found a more integrated approach is needed, where obstetricians, oncologists, and other health professionals work together to provide coordinated care.

This approach has already been put into practice in some locations, such as in Parkville, where the Women’s, Royal Melbourne Hospital and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre collaborate to optimise care for pregnant women with cancer.

“While pregnant women with cancer are a relatively small proportion of the population, they are an increasing and important proportion,” Prof Umstad said.

“Their care is complex and multidisciplinary, and our Parkville location provides an excellent opportunity to optimise their care in conjunction with colleagues at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.”

This research was published in The Breast.