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FHCI Receives Grant to Study Breast Cancer Cells at Risk for Metastasis

Wed 12/04/2013

The Florida chapter of the Phi Beta Psi Sorority donates more than $20,000 for breast cancer research.

ORLANDO, Fla., December 4, 2013- According to the American Cancer Society, one in every eight women will develop invasive breast cancer at some point in their lifetime.  The Metastatic Breast Cancer Network predicts that 20-30 percent of people initially diagnosed with early stage breast cancer will develop metastatic breast cancer that can spread to other areas of the body.  With the help of a new grant, researchers at the Florida Hospital Cancer Institute (FHCI) are hoping to identify bio-markers at risk for metastasizing. 

The Florida chapter of the Phi Beta Psi Sorority recently awarded FHCI a $20,096 grant for its research of circulating breast cancer tumor cells. Founded in Columbus, Ohio, in 1904, Phi Beta Psi is a national civic organization made up of women 18 years of age and older.  One of the many goals of this sorority, which is not affiliated with any university, is to partake in charitable work, including supporting cancer research. 

“We are very grateful to the Phi Beta Psi Sorority for having faith in our work and providing such generous support to start this journey,” said Sally Litherland, Ph.D., director of Research and Development at FHCI.

Utilizing state-of-the-art equipment which was funded through generous gifts to Florida Hospital in 2012, the researchers will isolate and study the cancer tumor cells.  By tracking cancer tumor cells and changes in the expression of estrogen receptors during treatment with anti-hormone therapy, researchers can follow the changes in breast cancer cells over time and treatment that can affect their ability to matastize. The findings from the study will be used to pursue new ways to develop individualized treatment for the best care of each patient at FHCI.

“By following circulating tumor cells during treatment, we are in essence doing a ‘liquid biopsy’ with just a blood draw,” said Litherland.  “This lets us see how well treatment is working and hopefully catch any potential metastatic cells before they grow beyond the few cell stage and land in some vital organ elsewhere in the body.  This is just the start of a long, but promising road toward personalizing treatment to each patient and each cancer for best effect.”

Florida Hospital Cancer Institute

The Florida Hospital Cancer Institute (FHCI) provides a comprehensive continuum of cancer services ranging from disease prediction and prevention to state-of-the-art detection, treatment and research – encompassed by educational, psychological and spiritual support.  FHCI treats thousands of newly diagnosed cancer patients each year and has one of the largest clinical trials program in Central Florida. For more information, visit www.floridahospitalcancer.com.

For media inquiries only, call Florida Hospital Media Relations at 407-303-8217.