A Team Approach to Tackling Breast CancerSponsored By University of Miami Health System

Dr. Joyce Slingerland is director of the Braman Family Breast Cancer Institute at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of UHealth – University of Miami Health System. To find a doctor or make an appointment at one of Sylvester’s locations (Miami, Deerfield Beach, Kendall, Coral Gables, Plantation, Coral Springs and Hollywood), visit the Sylvester website or call the patient access program at 305-243-5302 or 877-243-1056. For more breast cancer news and research, go to University of Miami’s health news blog.


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When Claudia Garcia, nurse and mom of two, was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer at age 42, she knew Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center would provide her with the best treatment options based on the latest research. “Sylvester was my first choice,” says Claudia.

In a coordinated effort, Claudia’s doctors determined that the best path forward was to shrink her tumor with chemotherapy before surgery. Then she received the latest radiation therapy, with reduced side effects and more accurate cancer targeting.

Less than a year after her diagnosis, Claudia has completed her treatment. She is feeling energetic and has begun a new exercise regiment. “Now that we’re done, we’re enjoying family functions, picking my kids up at school, volleyball practices. We’re back in the normal routine. It’s a gift,” says Claudia.

She is now preparing for the next phase of her journey as a participant in the PALLAS clinical trial at Sylvester under the care of Dr. Joyce Slingerland.


When a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, the radiation oncologist, medical oncologist, and surgical oncology team collaborate to advise her about treatment options and empower her to make decisions to promote the best probability for cure.

“It’s a coordinated approach between multiple caregivers and it’s an investment in the future,” says Dr. Slingerland, who consulted with Claudia’s surgeon and radiation oncologist to develop an appropriate path for her care.

“Every step of the way there was someone to guide you, which made the process so much easier for me and my family,” says Claudia. “From the receptionist who greets you to the doctors who answer any question you have, there’s always someone to help you. I couldn’t have done this without my Sylvester team.”


After completing surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, the next step in Claudia’s care is to begin endocrine therapy. “We were delighted to be able to offer a clinical trial to Claudia which is testing the benefit of a new targeted therapy along with standard endocrine therapy to prevent cancer recurrence,” says Dr. Slingerland.

PALLAS is an abbreviation for PALbociclib CoLlaborative Adjuvant Study. The PALLAS Trial (NCT02513394) is exploring whether palbociclib, a targeted medication taken with adjuvant endocrine therapy, will decrease the chance of breast cancer coming back beyond endocrine therapy alone.

The PALLAS trial is for people who have had a diagnosis of hormone receptor-positive (HR+)/human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-negative (HER2-) breast cancer and are receiving adjuvant endocrine therapy. Adjuvant endocrine therapy is treatment that is given after surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiotherapy; examples include tamoxifen and /or aromatase inhibitors (e.g. anastrozole, letrozole, exemestane.)

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Key participant criteria:

  • HR+/HER2-, stage II/III early invasive breast cancer
  • Pre- and postmenopausal women or men
  • Has completed surgery, any chemotherapy, and/or radiotherapy
  • In good physical shape with adequate organ function


An added benefit of treatment at Sylvester is access to the latest research advances through clinical trials. To learn more, please call Sylvester’s Clinical Trial Matching Service at 866-574-5124.


Dr. Slingerland is a world-renowned physician-researcher whose work includes studying the connection between breast cancer and fat cells. According to her research, obese women have a one and a half times higher risk of developing breast cancer after menopause than the general population. When obese women are diagnosed with breast cancer, their survival rates are poorer than those who are not obese.

Dr. Slingerland’s work has wide implications, as woman who may not be overweight or obese at the time of diagnosis can gain weight later on, which may increase the odds of the cancer’s recurrence. This is because when breast cancer cells interact with fat cells, they set up an inflammatory response. Proteins produced as a result of the inflammation can stimulate the growth of rogue cancer cells, which in turn can lead to recurrence of the disease.

Dr. Slingerland hopes her findings will inspire physicians and their patients to take a more proactive approach to addressing obesity and weight gain as part of their treatment plans.

“We’re going to be seeing seminal clinical trials to reduce weight and implement lifestyle and exercise interventions,” says Dr. Slingerland. “As we understand the molecular pathways that drive the interaction between fat and cancer, we may also be able to intervene with new targeted therapies to reduce inflammation.”


Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of UHealth – the University of Miami Health System and the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, is among the nation’s leading cancer centers and South Florida’s only Cancer Center of Excellence. A 2015 study by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, showed that cancer patients treated at Sylvester have a 10 percent higher chance of survival than those treated at nearly any other cancer center in the nation. Sylvester has a network of conveniently located outpatient treatment facilities in Miami, Coral Gables, Kendall, Hollywood, Plantation, Deerfield Beach and Coral Springs. For more information, visit Sylvester.org.


Focusing on You: Innovations in Modern Medicine is a series of healthcare-related stories airing regularly on CBS-4. For more stories like this one, visit YouTube channels for Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and UHealth, University of Miami Health System.

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Above content provided by Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and UHealth, University of Miami Health System