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In 2023, it is estimated that over 1,800 Australians were diagnosed with ovarian cancer. For these people, treatment can involve invasive surgery and chemotherapy, leaving them physically and emotionally vulnerable, even after they have finished treatment. 

St John of God Health Care is proud to be at the forefront of research that aims to better support patients, including following treatment for ovarian cancer through a new donor-funded clinical trial  called ‘Getting the MOST (Measure of Ovarian Symptoms and Treatment concerns) out of Ovarian Cancer Follow-Up’. Led by Professor Paul Cohen, the trial has the potential to change the way in which ovarian, fallopian tube and primary peritoneal cancer patients receive follow up care. 

The ‘Getting the MOST out of Ovarian Cancer Follow-Up’ trial aims to improve patients’ experience and outcomes by offering more holistic follow up care, and relieving the stress of travelling to appointments, particularly for people in rural and remote areas. The trial will take a novel approach to follow up care after completion of primary treatment, including nurse-led follow up via telehealth, and a standardised, patient-reported symptom assessment - the MOST patient reported outcome questionnaire. 

Traditional models of follow up care focus primarily on detecting the recurrence of cancer and involve regular clinic visits and physical examinations by a doctor. Issy Black, Clinical Nurse at St John of God Subiaco Hospital and part of the ‘Getting the MOST out of Ovarian Cancer Follow-Up’ research team, says the trial is important for ensuring the psychological wellbeing of patients, in addition to assessing their physical symptoms. 

“The current model of follow up largely focuses on diagnosis of recurrent disease with psychosocial needs often inadequately addressed,” says Issy. 

“Anxiety, depression, fear of recurrence and physical symptoms such as fatigue are all common following treatment for ovarian cancer and most people would like and need help to deal with these symptoms.” 

Prof Cohen also says that current follow up methods are not evidence-based, with no high-quality trials ever conducted in this space. 

“This is the first such study in patients with ovarian cancer and is an unprecedented Australian collaboration between medical and gynaecological oncologists, clinical nurse specialists, internationally renowned health-related quality of life and psycho-oncology researchers, and health economists,” says Prof Cohen.

As many of us know, cancer treatment can often require extensive travel to and from hospital. This is especially true for the one third of Australia’s ovarian cancer patients living in rural and remote locations. For these people, travelling for follow up appointments involves a considerable cost in terms of time, transport, and accommodation, as well as time away from work and loved ones. The trial aims to reduce the stress of travelling to appointments for these patients by providing follow up care via telehealth and enabling patients to assess and report on their own symptoms remotely. 

“The trial provides patients with an alternative method of follow up that is convenient and does not require attendance at a hospital based appointment, thereby reducing the burden on both them and their families, and busy hospital clinics,” says Issy. 

The ‘Getting the MOST out of Ovarian Cancer Follow-Up’ trial is currently in the recruiting phase, and in the coming months will help many patients to have an improved experience with follow up care after their ovarian cancer treatment. This is only possible thanks to compassionate support from our donor community.

“Thanks to generous donor and grant funding, research at St John of God Health Care is improving health outcomes and quality of life for individual patients here in WA, with the potential to shape the future of health care across the globe,” says Bianca Pietralla, CEO of St John of God Foundation. 

“It is critical we invest in and nurture research talent within WA, and through philanthropic funding the ‘Getting the MOST out of Ovarian Cancer Follow-Up’ team can continue to dedicate themselves to excellence in research.”

We gratefully acknowledge the Western Australian Health Translation Network’s Health Service Translational Research Project Grant, the Australian Government’s Medical Research Future Fund, the Ladybird Foundation, and the Australia and New Zealand Gynaecological Oncology Group (ANZGOG) Fund for New Research Grant as funding sources.

Three people sitting at a desk with an open laptop on it, looking at the camera.

The MOST research team includes (pictured L-R) Sanela Bilic, Project Manager, Gynaecological Cancer Research; Maria Beilin, Project Officer; Issy Black, Clinical Nurse – Gynaecological Oncology Research; as well as lead researcher Professor Paul Cohen and Stephanie Jeffares, Research Officer (not pictured).

Four people standing in a room smiling at the camera, with one of them holding a cheque up.

Director of the Ladybird Foundation Dr Pamela Hendry presents cheque to Professor Paul Cohen, Issy Black, and St John of God Foundation Philanthropy Manager Maria Moffitt. 

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