Q10 - Palliative Care
Ms Head talks about the best time for a patient to consider palliative care and discusses its many benefits.
Q9 - Discussing Scan Results
Ms Crowe explains why it is preferable to discuss scan results with an oncologist before talking to a breast care nurse.
Q8 - More about the Role of the McGrath Nurse
Ms Crowe explains the McGrath Foundation’s model of care and how it governs the way they support patients. In addition, she delves into the various responsibilities that make up the role of a breast care nurse, shedding light on the tasks they undertake.
Q7 - How to Access CBD Oil
When inquiring about CBD oil, Ms Head suggests obtaining it through a prescription from an oncologist or palliative care physician. However, she notes that healthcare providers may be hesitant due to the lack of clinical trials. Ms Head emphasises the importance of discussing the use of CBD oil with a healthcare provider beforehand to ensure it does not interact with any other prescribed medications.
Q6 - Supportive Therapies
Ms Crowe discusses various supportive therapies and emphasises the importance of breast care nurses being knowledgeable about them, comprehending their significance, and effectively sharing this information with interested patients.
Q5 - Supporting Family Members
Pia inquires about support for family members and Ms Crowe explains that often with metastatic patients, it is common for nurses to engage in more conversations with family members than the patients themselves.
Q4 - Lobbying for Support
Ms Crowe talks about how the McGrath Foundation actively lobbies for new breast care nurses and funding. She also highlights that in a bid to increase numbers, the foundation is incorporating non-foundation nurses into their services.
Q3 - Regional Patients
Ms Crowe talks about how the McGrath Foundation strives to provide free access to a breast care nurse regardless of location. Additionally, she emphasises the benefits of being local and why she prefers to refer patients to a nurse in their area. Ms Head then gives further insights into the McGrath Foundation’s commitment to employing metastatic breast care nurses.
Q2 - Immunotherapy Response
Dr. Andelkovic sheds light on immunotherapy, stating that although research projects are underway, it has not yet become a mainstream treatment. He further elaborates how immunotherapy can serve as a viable option in areas where treatment options are limited e.g. triple negative breast cancer.
Q1 - On Referrals
Joining Dr Vlad Andelkovic Medical Oncologist for our question and answer session are Ms Katie Head and Ms Beth Crowe both Metastatic Breast Care Nurses. Ms Head discusses referrals and the different ways she might come into contact with new patients. Additionally, she mentions the McGrath Foundation’s commitment to employing specialist metastatic breast care nurses. Dr Andelkovic further elaborates how breast care nurses frequently possess knowledge of patients ahead of him.
Q13 - Why Does Cancer Recur?
Dr Andelkovic explains the various reasons why cancer can recur in some patients and provides details on some of these reasons. Additionally, he describes different types of recurrences and how oncologists would respond to them.
Q12 - Combination Therapies
Dr Andelkovic talks about how oncologists respond when drug combinations do not work for a patient. He gives examples of when a drug may need to be replaced with another.
Q11 - On Zoladex
Dr Andelkovic answers a question about Zoladex and explains its mechanism of action and why it can be used for a prolonged period. He also points out alternatives to this treatment and when a patient might consider this.
Q10 - The Uses of Radiation Therapy
Dr Andelkovic explains how and when radiation is used, which types of cancers it treats, and what benefits the patient receives from the treatment.
Q9 - Cumulative Effects of Long Term Treatment
Dr Andelkovic discusses the effects of specific medication when asked about long term treatment.
Q8 - Remission
Dr Andelkovic talks about when oncologists choose to use the term “remission” to describe a patient’s condition.
Q7 - Financial Implications of Outliving your Prognosis
Dr Andelkovic is asked about the financial implications of out-living a prognosis. He offers a medical perspective, talking about how these situations can arise when someone responds well to treatment.
Q6 - New Developments in Drug Treatment
Dr Andelkovic talks about a new treatment involving a new type of drug called antibody-drug conjugates or ADCs. He describes how they function and the benefits they offer.
Q5 - When Should Our Daughters Be Screened for Breast Cancer?
Dr Andelkovic discusses the appropriate time for daughters of breast cancer patients to undergo testing. He outlines the factors that are taken into account when determining the optimal timing for testing and how to begin this process.
Q4 - Genetic Testing
Dr Andelkovic is asked about genetic testing. He talks about how increasingly common it is becoming, before distinguishing between genetic and genomic testing. He then goes on to explain how the data obtained from these tests can be used to develop and apply certain treatments.
Q3 - On Team Work
Dr Andelkovic continues the discussion by explaining how oncologists work together in various ways and the advantages of sharing their experiences and challenges.
Q2 - Can we Drive our Treatment?
Dr Vladimir Andelkovic answers the question about the appropriateness of patients driving their own treatment. He explains that this varies among Oncologists, but he personally considers several factors when discussing treatments, including the patients’ opinions.
INTRO and Q1 - Treatment Choices
Mary O’Brien starts our March workshop by explaining the question and answer format and presenting Dr Vladimir Andelkovic. Vlad then talks about the factors that are taken into account when determining a treatment plan for someone who has just been diagnosed with Metastatic Breast Cancer.
Intro - What is palliative care?
In this video, Dr Richards explains that historically, Palliative care has been associated with end of life care, but this is no longer the case. He explains that Palliative Care is an important and helpful part of an integrated health care plan from diagnosis of a metastatic or Stage 4 cancer.
Walking Beside Her. A film for partners and carers.
This DVD is a resource for partners and carers. “Walking Beside Her” is based on the experience of Peter and Fran, who had secondary breast cancer for 8 years and died in January 2010. Throughout this time Fran was a member of the Advanced Breast Cancer Group, and Peter was a member of the Partners’ Group. In this film Peter talks about their journey together from diagnosis to the final days, in the hope that this will be of help to other partners and carers of women with secondary breast cancer.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day - October 13th
October is breast cancer awareness month and to commemorate October 13th, Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day, we have put together a compilation video which articulates a simple message – to seek out the stories of women living post pink. Help reduce their sense of isolation by increasing your understanding and awareness of their experience of living with a terminal illness. https://www.advancedbreastcancergroup.org.au/
Q&A 1 - Articulating your needs
Question: in this first video, Tom responds to a question about how to ensure your wants, needs and concerns aren’t diminished when talking to health professionals.
Q&A 2 - Relationship building with health practitioners
In this second video the question from the group related to concerns about being treated as a number or a diagnosis rather than an individual. In response Tom highlighted the importance of relationship building with health practitioners in order to increase levels of trust, knowledge and ultimately efficacy in treatments.
Walking Beside Her
What can friends do to help?
If you want to help, ask what would be helpful. Practical tasks – shopping, ironing, mowing the lawn, making a meal, walking the dog, hanging the washing – are often the ones that take the effort, energy or time that someone who is having treatment doesn’t have.
Recent News and Updates
- New research paper highlights effectiveness of professionally led support groups for people living with metastatic cancer January 29, 2024
- Workshop October 2023 January 29, 2024
- Workshop March 2023 June 21, 2023