Dr. Emilia Dauway, FACS, FRACS is a breast surgeon at Mater Hospital Gladstone.
Dr. Emilia Dauway, FACS, FRACS is a breast surgeon at Mater Hospital Gladstone.

Breast cancer surgery gone from Gladstone

BREAST cancer patients from Gladstone are missing out on ground-breaking surgery after the doctor who introduced the procedure to Australia, left town and wasn’t replaced.

Dr Emilia Dauway was lured to Gladstone from the US in 2015 by her good friend and colleague, Dr Rob Schreiber, after practising as a surgeon around the world.

Developed by Endomagnetics in the United Kingdom, the surgery was practised by Dr Dauway in the US before she introduced it first in Australia to Gladstone.

It involves a seed, the size of a grain of rice, being implanted in a breast-cancer patient’s legion up to 30 days before surgery, to achieve accurate location and precise removal of cancer.

Previously patients had to undergo a hook wire implant and removal on the same day, after cancer had been located by a mammogram, often resulting in extensive travel for regional patients.

“I’ve had patients travel up to five hours to come into hospital,” Dr Dauway said.

After being recruited by Gladstone’s Mater Hospital to perform the Endomatics Magseed surgery plus other procedures, Dr Dauway had to move to Hervey Bay to continue working, due to financial issues at the hospital.

“If you don’t have expert education about all the options, and hospitals aren’t investing in technology that makes those options available to women, the women in regional areas like Gladstone will continue to be disadvantaged,” she said.

Now Hervey Bay is the closest option for Gladstone residents to go under the knife of Dr Dauway, who is the Clinical Director of Surgery at Hervey Bay Hospital.

Her interest in breast cancer treatment led her to establish the not-for-profit Restore More, aimed at improving the standard of care for women with breast cancer in regional areas and educating them on current treatment options.

Michelle Landry with Dr Emilia Dauway.
Michelle Landry with Dr Emilia Dauway.

Dr Dauway said the surgery results in significantly less likelihood of a mastectomy, preserving breast tissue, and has the same survival rate as complete breast removal.

“It uncouples the scheduling of radiology and surgery,” she said.

“During surgery, the probe makes a beeping noise when it gets near the seed, allowing for a more targeted approach and helping to facilitate breast preservation.

“The survival rate is the same for lump removal followed by radiation as breast removal.

“If we reduce the number of mastectomies, we reduce the number of reconstructions.”

For many patients, Dr Dauway said, the option of a $20,000 reconstructive operation isn’t viable, so this surgery can help eliminate that.

“Only one in 10 women who get a mastectomy will get a reconstruction and Queensland has the lowest reconstruction rate in the country,” she said.

“I was inspired to start Restore More to raise awareness around breast reconstruction and increase access for this service in regional areas.”

Now Dr Dauway’s Restore More is turning to digital currency, instead of cash, to reach more women in need of reconstructive surgery.

She said Qoin (pronounced coin) is a better option for not-for-profits during COVID-19 due to the fears associated with cash.

“I saw it as an opportunity for our non-profit to gain donations through Qoin, then use those donations to use other businesses and services, without reducing our capital in our non-profit. “Instead, our capital can be used for helping women.”

Qoin, based in Southport, has spread rapidly during COVID, with more than 7000 small business merchants, including many in Central Queensland, now accepting the digital currency.

Dr Dauway was awarded “Inspirational Woman of the Year” in 2019 by the Regional Queensland Women’s Association for holistic approach to surgery and the work she’s doing with regional women though Restore More.

For more information about Dr Dauway’s surgery and Restore More click here.

Gladstone’s Mater Hospital said it would not comment on circumstances of individual staff members.

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