comprehensive breast cancer management
At Southwest Breast Clinic we offer comprehensive management of breast cancer with a multi-disciplinary approach. Research shows that a multidisciplinary approach to the management of breast cancer improves survival.
The Southwest Breast Clinic team comprises our specialist general surgeon, plastic surgeon, breast reconstruction nurse and ancillary staff. Our team works together with local medical oncologists and radiation oncologists in Warrnambool. Together we provide a comprehensive, world-class service in breast cancer management in a local setting, covering all aspects from diagnosis to reconstruction.
Our clinicians work together as a multidisciplinary team to assist in the recommendations and treatment of both women and men with both breast cancer and benign breast conditions.
A team approach to managing complex medical conditions such as breast cancer which involves various experts – both doctors and non-doctors – to ensure optimal treatment.
International best practice guidelines suggest this should be the case for all women with breast cancer.
Some surgeons still operate outside a formalised multidisciplinary process
At Southwest Breast Clinic, all cancer patients are formally discussed at a multidisciplinary team meeting (MDM) one or more times
This may vary between treating centres and for differing patients, but core members generally include: general surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, radiologists, pathologists and breast care nurses. For patients of Southwest Breast Clinic, our general surgeon, plastic surgeon and breast reconstruction nurse participate alongside local medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, radiologists, pathologists and breast care nurses.
THE ROLE OF
Our General Surgeon
Mr Wilhelm Scholtz Wiggett
MBChB(Pret), FCS(SA), MMED(Surg)(Pret)
Mr Wiggett is a specialist general surgeon with interests in breast surgery and breast cancer. He delivers compassionate counsel and care across all areas of diagnostic and therapeutic breast disease. Central to treatment planning, ordering investigations and performing breast cancer surgery, Mr Wiggett is closely involved in your long-term follow-up and surveillance.
Having completed his medical degree at the University of Pretoria in 1999, he spent some time in the United Kingdom before returning to South Africa to complete his general surgical training becoming a Fellow of the College of Surgeon of South Africa in 2008 and completed his Masters of Surgery in 2009.
Mr Wiggett relocated to Warrnambool in 2019 from Pretoria, South Africa leaving behind a busy private practice. He also enjoys teaching and formed part of the ATLS (Advanced Trauma Life Support) faculty as an instructor for trauma.
He currently consults patients in Warrnambool and Camperdown and operates privately at St John of God and publicly at Southwest Health care Warrnambool and Camperdown.
THE ROLE OF
our Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon
Mr Robert Toma
Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon
MBBS FRACS (Plast)
Mr Robert Toma is a specialist Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon, commencing practice in Warrnambool in 2012. Breast reconstruction forms an important part of your holistic treatment. If you require a mastectomy for your treatment you will be referred to discuss your reconstructive options. This discussion is ideally held following your treatment planning so you are aware of all the options available to you.
His fellowship experience was obtained at The Alfred, St Vincent’s, The Royal Children’s, Western and Northern Hospitals. He is extensively trained in microsurgery, reconstructive breast surgery, hand surgery, skin cancer management, maxillofacial surgery, burns management and cosmetic surgery.
Upon completion of his training, Robert and his wife Dr Emma Renouf (General practitioner and cosmetic physician) relocated to the district from Melbourne. Having worked in Warrnambool as a surgical trainee, Robert was pleased to be able to return to the region and set up WPRS to service the community.
Robert consults from WPRS Warrnambool and Mt Gambier. He has private appointments at St. John of God Hospital, Warrnambool and Epworth health and holds public appointments at Southwest Healthcare, Warrnambool and Portland Base Hospital. In addition, Robert maintains a Melbourne-based honorary Consultant position at St Vincent’s Hospital, to facilitate a collaborative approach to more complex Plastic Surgery cases
THE ROLE OF
Our Breast Cancer Coordinator
At Southwest Breast Clinic we aim to minimise the stress that is associated with breast diagnoses by helping you co-ordinate appointments to ensure treatment is delivered in time efficient manner with a high quality of service.
Our Breast Cancer Coordinator is available to assist with queries patients may have about their care. The Breast Cancer Coordinator also works with our support team to coordinate a patient’s care in the breast clinic and provide emotional and practical support and advocate for patients within multidisciplinary forums.
The Breast Cancer Coordinator will be central to your care and involved in assisting you through the process. This includes organising investigations, appointments and surgery.
THE ROLE OF
our Breast Reconstruction Nurse
Breast Reconstruction Nurse
Karen completed her General Nurse training at Hamilton Hospital and midwifery training at the Mater Mothers Hospital in Brisbane. Karen spent a number of years travelling and working around Australia before returning to Terang to start a family.
Karen has worked as a Night Co-ordinator at Terang Hospital for over 20 years. During this time, she completed a Post Graduate Bachelor of Nursing and became an International Certified Lactation Consultant.
Karen developed an interest in breast reconstruction after her own breast cancer diagnosis in 2009. Karen has a wealth of knowledge relating to breast cancer treatments and reconstruction and understands the emotional roller coaster patients and their families experience.
Outside work Karen and her husband now live in the beautiful coastal town of Peterborough where she enjoys everything about the beach lifestyle, training for triathlons, spending time with family and planning for her next overseas adventure.
Frequently Asked Questions
At SWBC we offer a comprehensive breast cancer service with the aim of providing high quality care and taking the stress out of this difficult time.
We have a General surgeon who specialises in breast cancer management and a plastic and reconstruction surgeon who provide a complete breast reconstruction service. This is supported by our breast reconstruction nurse and coordinator who work closely with local oncology teams and breast care nurses to provide a high level of care
Yes, you need to get a referral from your GP. Once sent SWBC will contact you to book an appointment time.
A consultation with our General Surgeon is $200 for an initial consultation ($76.80 rebate from Medicare) and $160 for review ($38.60). Concession rates available.
Consultations are held at the Southwest Breast Clinic, which is located at Suite 13 within the St John of God Hospital building. Please enter through the Hospitals main entrance and follow directions.
Surgery may take place at either Southwest Healthcare, ifpublic, or St John of God, if you have private cover.
Surgery waiting times vary greatly in public health system but will be done urgently, usually within 4 weeks in the case of breast cancer diagnosis.
Surgery as a private patient can be booked at a time of your convenience that aligns with your surgeon’s operating schedule.
After your consultation with a your General Surgeon and/or Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon, if it is decided that you will require surgery, you will see one of the secretaries who will provide you with information regarding any out-of-pocket costs.
Out-of-pocket costs depend on the type of procedure, your level of private health cover and if the procedure has a Medicare item number.
We strongly advise that any private patients check with their insurance company that their level of cover covers the procedure.
If you elect to have surgery as a public patient you will be placed on the waiting list at the public hospital of your choice. There will be no out of pocket cost for this surgery,however, you will be required to wait for your surgery in line with government guidelines.
Your initial consultation will be with our General Surgeon, Mr Scholtz Wiggett. Surgical options will be discussed and you will be offered an appointment with Mr Robert Toma to discuss breast reconstruction options if required.
Yes, you are encouraged to bring another adult with you to appointments as this is a stressful time and the information can be overwhelming.
This will depend on the type of surgery you have.
If you have a lumpectomy the surgeon will endeavour to make the size and shape of the breast as aesthetically pleasing as possible but there may still be a size difference and / or deformity.
If you have a mastectomy this involves removal of the whole breast. Breast reconstruction will be offered with the aim to match the remaining breast as much as possible. The remaining breast may need to be reduced or lifted to assist in this process.
Pain is a very individual thing and varies from person to person. Some people report only minimal surgical pain. You will be prescribed an appropriate analgesia, fitted with a support garment and seen by a physiotherapist post surgery.
No, this is a personal choice. It is important to thoroughly discuss the options with your medical team so you can make the best decision for you.
Generally, yes. Most breast reconstruction involves a staged process requiring several surgeries. The timeline and process will be fully discussed by your Breast Reconstruction Surgeon.
This will depend on your treatment plan which will be devised by your surgeon and Oncologist (if required).
Yes, there are a number of options available and the Plastic surgeon will discuss these with you.
This will depend greatly on the type of reconstruction you have and at what stage the process is at.
If an expander is used initially to stretch the skin this will feel tight and uncomfortable.
Implants usually feel soft and comfortable but you will have reduced sensation and your nipple will have been removed.
Autologous (DIEP/TRAM) reconstructions will feel like a normal breast but also have altered sensation.
Nipples can be reconstructed but will not have the same sensitivity as a normal nipple.
This varies depending on the type of surgery and whether you are having a reconstruction.
- Lumpectomy 1-2 days
- Mastectomy 3-5 days
- Implants 1-2 days
- Autologous (DIEP/TRAM) 5-7 days
This will also depend on the type of surgery and whether you have a reconstruction.
Generally, you will only require 1-2 weeks for a lumpectomy but would require 3-4 weeks for a mastectomy.
If you have a reconstruction, you will also require a number of follow up appts that would require time away from work.
Comprehensive information should have been provided in the referral from your GP, but it does not hurt to bring a copy of this as well as the results of any scans or investigations, if available.
You should also bring a copy of your medicare card, any applicable concession or private health insurance cards and a list of questions you might have.