Holding several advanced degrees in the area of pharmaceutical sciences, Sherif El-Refai devoted nearly 10 years of study to the eradication of cancer. In addition to serving in the University of Kanas College of Pharmacy Black Lab, where he conducted lung cancer research to assist in developing more efficient treatments, Sherif El-Refai serves the Markey Cancer Center in the position of oncology pharmacist.
In the study of lung cancer, several subsets of the disease exit. Researchers say that because of the existence of these multiple subsets, the approach of treating the disease should vary for each patient based on which subset their cancer falls into.
Cancer of the lung, like all cancers, results from an abnormality in the body’s basic unit of life, the cell. Normally, the body maintains a system of checks and balances on cell growth so that cells divide to produce new cells only when new cells are needed. Disruption of this system of checks and balances on cell growth results in an uncontrolled division and proliferation of cells that eventually forms a mass known as tumor.
Tumors can be benign or malignant; when we speak of “cancer,” we refer to those tumors that are malignant. Benign tumors usually can be removed and do not spread to other parts of the body. Malignanttumors, on the other hand, often grow aggressively locally where they start, but tumor cells also can enter into the bloodstream or lymphatic system and then spread to other sites in the body. This process of spread is termed metastasis; the areas of tumor growth at these distant sites are called metastases.
Since lung cancer tends to spread or metastasize very early after it forms, it is a very life-threatening cancer and one of the most difficult cancers to treat. While lung cancer can spread to any organ in the body, certain locations — particularly the adrenal glands, liver, brain, and bones — are the most common sites for lung cancer metastasis. By knowing the makeup of each subset and how they react to each type of therapy, the research will aid in improving patient outcomes.
Sherif El-Refai is a PhD student at the University of Kentucky where he studies pharmaceutical sciences with a focus on clinical and experimental therapeutics. An experienced clinical researcher, Sherif El-Refai currently serves as an oncology pharmacist at the University of Kentucky’s Markey Cancer Center.
The Markey Cancer Center is a healthcare and research institution that has been providing cancer treatment for more than two decades. The center, which is in Lexington, Kentucky, offers innovative technology and high-quality, individualized patient care provided by a team of leading cancer specialists. In addition, the center operates wellness programs such as the Cancer Screening Program.
The Cancer Screening Program operates in partnership with education programs, research groups, and healthcare providers to offer comprehensive cancer prevention and screening services. Screenings, which are free for individuals who meet eligibility requirements, are available for lung, ovarian, prostate, skin, breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers. In addition, the American Cancer Society collaborates with the Markey Cancer Center to provide recommendations related to screenings. For more information on the program, visit www.ukhealthcare.edu/markeypatients-families/cancer-screening/.
Dedicating his nearly 10-year career to the study and elimination of cancer, particularly lung cancer, Markey Cancer Center oncology pharmacist Sherif El-Refai conducts extensive research to assist in the development of successful medical care. Based in Lexington, Kentucky, Sherif El-Refai gained experience as a researcher at the laboratory of the University of Kansas College of Pharmacy.
According to a recent study conducted in the United States, as reported by Reuters Health, worsening depression symptoms are linked to a lower chance of survival for patients with lung cancer, especially so if in the early stages. The study found that when depression symptoms lifted, the chance for survival increased.
Lead author Donald R. Sullivan, a professor at Oregon Health and Science University, shared in the article via email that while this study does not prove causation, it does show the importance of not only treating the physical cancer, but to also screening for signs of depression in patients and treating depression as a means to help improve outcomes. Quality of life is impacted by the overall well-being of patients, which involves, among many other factors, their levels of depression.
A pharmacist holding an MBA from the University of Florida, Sherif El-Refai recently began a doctoral program at the University of Kentucky. Pursuing a PhD in pharmaceutical sciences, Sherif El-Refai concurrently works at the Markey Cancer Center, where he serves as an oncology pharmacist.
A cancer center designated by the National Cancer Institute, the Markey Cancer Center focuses on developing research studies that enhance therapies offered to patients diagnosed with various forms of the disease. In 2009, the university’s center was awarded a Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant. One of only six cancer centers to receive the grant, the organization obtained $1.5 million in funding to support studies on colon and liver cancer.
Employing tissue procurement and analysis as well as biostatistics, the research team, led by Dr. B. Mark Evers, evaluates tumor stroma, mucosa, and colorectal cancer cases to locate the underlying components that progress colorectal cancer. In terms of liver cancer, researchers are looking for a direct link between hepatitis C virus proteins and the disease.
An accomplished academic and experienced clinical pharmacist, Sherif El-Refai currently attends the University of Kentucky as a PhD candidate in pharmaceutical sciences. In addition to his studies, Sherif El-Refai works to develop new treatments for lung cancer in his role as an oncology pharmacist at the University of Kentucky’s Markey Cancer Center.
Recently, the Markey Cancer Center held its Expressions of Courage event, which brought together hundreds of individuals for an afternoon celebrating National Cancer Survivorship Month. The event, which took place in the center’s courtyard on Friday, June 5, 2015, featured an exhibit showcasing artwork created by cancer patients and survivors as well as their friends and family members.
In addition to a visual art exhibition, the afternoon’s festivities included literary readings, dance and musical performances, and a short speech from Dr. Mark Evers, the Markey Cancer Center’s director. Those who missed the Expressions of Courage event still have the opportunity to view the participant’s visual art displays in the Combs Atrium Building of the Markey Center.
A longtime clinical researcher with a wealth of experience in pharmacogenomics, Sherif El-Refai currently works as an oncology pharmacist at the Markey Cancer Center at the University of Kentucky Hospital. In this role, Sherif El-Refai focuses his efforts primarily on lung cancer research, conducted at the Multidisciplinary Lung Cancer Program. A diverse team composed of oncology specialists from a variety of medical fields, the lung and thoracic cancer team provides a multifaceted approach to lung cancer treatment.
In terms of specialties, the lung cancer program at the Markey Cancer Center regularly treats patients with mesothelioma, bronchial carcinoid, esophageal cancer, and small- and non-small-cell lung cancer. The team utilizes some of the latest advances in cancer treatment, from traditional radiation and chemotherapy regiments to the newest and most promising pharmaceuticals. The Lung Cancer Program also participates in clinical trials, which can contribute to the discovery of new cancer treatments.