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Ever wanted to ask a breast cancer researcher a question?

May 11th, 2017

Earlier this month we invited Professor Meera Agar to our Facebook page to answer live questions from the public about the importance of specialist care for those with metastatic breast cancer.

Professor Meera is a palliative care doctor – she helps women with metastatic breast cancer develop a plan to tackle their symptoms, she arranges family, emotional and spiritual support, and helps reduce the stress of navigating the healthcare system.

But her work doesn’t stop there; she’s also a passionate NBCF-funded researcher. Being so close to the coalface of late-stage metastatic breast cancer means she sees things which can be improved and is dedicated to helping women have a better quality of life.

Family and friends

“Family and friends are critical, and should also be the focus of care.”

One of the first questions for Professor Meera during the live chat asked about the importance of family and friends for women going through the experience of late-stage metastatic breast cancer.

Professor Meera responded, “Family and friends are critical, and should also be the focus of care. It is important to be guided by the woman herself, as all of us have different approaches to privacy and how we wish to be supported or make decisions and it is important to respect this.”

Future of research

Thanks tbreast cancer researchero the generosity of the Australian public, NBCF has funded Professor Meera’s aims into ways to reduce the likelihood that a woman will experience episodes of delirium while in hospital for metastatic breast cancer. One of the questions during the live Q&A asked her where other research is needed to improve outcomes for these women.

“We are interested in understanding better ways to support older people with breast cancer when they are having cancer treatment.”

“There are many symptoms which warrant further attention from research…to improve options for the management of shortness of breath, fatigue and appetite loss. My area of research aims to explore better ways to maintain cognitive function for people who are living with metastatic breast cancer. We are also interested in understanding better ways to support older people with breast cancer when they are having cancer treatment, and also consider rehabilitative approaches during treatment and care for metastatic breast cancer and its treatments.”

Breast cancer symptoms

Some of the public were interested in the symptoms many women with metastatic breast cancer experience, such as pain.

Professor Meera says, “Not everyone with cancer experiences pain. Pain can occur due to the cancer itself, or its treatment, and some people have pain unrelated to the cancer itself.  Some examples of types of pain come from the cancer pressing on organs, bones or nerve, a break in a bone (fracture) if cancer has spread to the bone; as a side effect of chemotherapy or radiotherapy, blockage of an organ or tube in the body (e.g bowel), infection or inflammation.” She recommends this booklet as a good reference for questions about pain and cancer.

A big thanks to Professor Meera for her time and helpful answers. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for the next live Q&A with a breast cancer researcher.