Dr Vladimir Andelkovic: ABCG Online Workshop, October 2020.
Dr Andelkovic presented on several topics at our ABCG online workshop held in October 2020. This was the first online workshop we have held due to the pandemic, where coming together in person was not advised.
Dr Andelkovic is an experienced oncologist with a strong research and academic interest. He is affiliated with two prominent universities in Queensland and is the lead or associate investigator in several clinical trials for new treatments across multiple cancer types including breast cancer and metastatic breast cancer.
We are grateful to him for being a part of this workshop and taking the time to share his knowledge and expertise with the group.
Chemotherapy vs hormone therapy – changes in the approach to first line treatment
In this clip Dr Andelkovic explains that there has been a change in the approach to treating metastatic breast cancer in recent years. Hormone therapy has become the preferred first line of treatment instead of chemotherapy, where appropriate, as it gives patients better quality of life. Chemotherapy as a first option is now reserved for more aggressive forms of the disease.
New Developments in the Treatment of Hormone Positive Breast Cancer
In this video, Dr Andelkovic discusses the use of a new oral treatment for hormone positive breast cancer called CDK4/6 inhibitors. These new drugs have been shown to be effective in delaying the resistance of breast cancers to endocrine treatments. They are relatively non-toxic and improve the effectiveness of hormone treatment when given concurrently. For more on ‘resistance to breast cancer treatment’ we would recommend watching ‘will we ever find a cure?’, part of the series of videos from Dr Andelkovic, as it explains the impact of drug resistance in metastatic breast cancer.
New developments in the treatment of HER2 positive breast cancer
In this video Dr Andelkovic discusses the use of new drugs for the treatment of HER2 positive breast cancer, with early research showing positive results in improving the prognosis for patients who are HER2 positive. Kadcyla, a ‘targeted smart drug’ designed to selectively attach to breast cancer cells whilst avoiding healthy cells in the body, is already in use in Australia. Other new drugs are being used in clinical trials, including one at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane.
New developments in the treatment of triple negative breast cancer
In this video Dr Andelkovic explains how the evolution of technology is impacting the treatment of triple negative breast cancer, with the use of a combination of chemotherapy and an antibody to target cancer cells more effectively and with less toxicity. He also discusses the use of immunotherapy in the treatment of patients with triple negative breast cancer and efforts to identify those patients who are more likely to benefit from immunotherapy. We would recommend watching this video in conjunction with the video entitled ‘what is triple negative breast cancer?’ which is also part of the series of videos from Dr Andelkovic.
The launch of a national clinical trial app – ClinTrial Refer App
In this video, Mary O’Brien (ABCG Group Therapist) asks Dr Andelkovic about how women find out about or get onto a clinical trial. He directs the group to an app called ‘ClinTrial Refer’ which is a database of clinical trials in Australia. The app can be downloaded from the app store. The website for more information is https://clintrialrefer.org.au/ He encourages patients to talk to their oncologists about trials that may be available to them.
The ‘compassionate access program’, also known as ‘patient familiarisation programs’
In this video Dr Andelkovic discusses the potential for patients to access drugs used in clinical trials through ‘compassionate access programs’. This is particularly where a drug has shown efficacy in published trials but may not yet be on the PBS. Access to the drug is generally free and the program is initiated in collaboration with the patient’s oncologist.
Travelling while on cancer treatment
In this clip Dr Andelkovic discusses the logistics of travelling within Australia whilst on cancer treatment, particularly if having infusions. He explained the difficulties of organising treatment, particularly for short terms stays, due to strict government guidelines and the requirement for pharmacies and hospitals to be registered to administer specific treatment.
Will we ever find a cure for metastatic breast cancer?
In this video Dr Andelkovic discussed whether it is possible to cure metastatic breast cancer. He acknowledged that while the goal of all cancer researchers is to find a cure, given the nature of advanced disease is that it becomes resistant to treatment over time, he is cautious to use the term ‘cure’ and instead thinks in terms of ‘sustained remission’.
How common is it for breast cancer to mutate?
In the Q&A part of the discussion with Dr Andelkovic, one of the ABCG group members asked how common it is for breast cancer to mutate. In particular, hormone-receptor positive breast cancer mutating into a triple negative cancer. In his response, among other points, he commented on the importance of re-biopsy as it is not uncommon for cancers to mutate over time.
What is triple negative breast cancer?
In this segment from the Q&A, Dr Andelkovic explains what ‘triple negative breast cancer’ is and how our understanding of breast cancer has changed over the past 20-30 years from seeing it as a single disease to now being divided into three groups – hormone positive, HER2 and triple negative, each requiring different types of treatment.
Why does breast cancer recur?
In this video Dr Andelkovic responds to a question about why breast cancer recurs, sometimes many years after the original diagnosis. He acknowledged this as one of the million-dollar questions researchers continue to grapple with.
The use of medical marijuana in cancer treatment or managing side effects.
In this video Dr Andelkovic noted the controversies surrounding the use of medical marijuana. There is no good evidence of medical marijuana having a positive role in the treatment of cancer. However, it can be effective in managing nausea and increasing appetite, and sometimes pain, although this is very subjective.