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Dr. Gregory Merrick/Schiffler Cancer Center Participate in Prestigious Study

March 6, 2018

WHEELNG – The Schiffler Cancer Center of Wheeling Hospital joined other world-class cancer centers to study the effectiveness of prostate cancer treatment options, the results of which were published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

JAMA is considered by the international medical community to be one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world.

Wheeling Hospital’s Dr. Gregory Merrick was invited to participate in the study with a team of world renowned prostate cancer experts. The study concluded that brachytherapy, such as that performed by Merrick, is the most effective among treatment options. The other research members represented: Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore; Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.; Cleveland Clinic; University of Michigan; University of California Los Angeles; Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia; Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York; and Oslo University, Norway.

The multi-institutional research involved 1,809 patients with the Gleason Score of 9 - 10, the most aggressive prostate cancer.

Researchers studied how patients fared with brachytherapy, radical prostatectomy or external beam radiation therapy. The study concluded that brachytherapy is the most effective treatment, offering better patient outcomes.

“This was the most aggressive cohort of prostate cancer patients, and brachytherapy demonstrated improved prostate cancer and overall survival compared to radical prostatectomy and external beam radiation therapy,” Merrick said. “I was honored to have participated in the research with my colleagues and their outstanding cancer institutions. Brachytherapy has the highest possibility of cure for patients with the most aggressive prostate cancer, and we are pleased to provide that treatment here at Wheeling Hospital. We are honored to have helped pioneer the development and implementation of prostate brachytherapy.”

Ron Violi, CEO of Wheeling Hospital, said, “We’re proud the Schiffler Cancer Center has such a favorable reputation that it was asked to participate in the study with some of the largest cancer centers in the world. Why would anyone go elsewhere than the Schiffler Cancer Center?”
Brachytherapy involves placing small radioactive material at the site of the cancer. This enables physicians to deliver higher doses of radiation to more precise areas of the body. It may cause fewer side effects than other forms of treatment and the overall treatment time usually is shorter.

Radical prostatectomy is surgery that removes the entire prostate gland and surrounding lymph nodes. External beam radiation for prostate cancer kills cancer cells by destroying the genetic material that controls how cells grow and divide. However, it also kills healthy cells in the beam’s path, resulting in side effects.

Merrick is an internationally known expert in uro-oncology, having treated patients from 42 states and 18 foreign countries, including members of the U.S. Congress and government officials from other nations. He also has written numerous books and published more than 400 research studies in uro-onology and related fields.

Last year, Merrick was one of only 12 U.S. physicians named as a Fellow in the American Brachytherapy Society (ABS). He also has been named one of the Best Doctors of American and is past president and chairman of the board of the ABS, a fellow in the American College of Radiology, is section editor of the journal Brachytherapy and has served as a manuscript reviewer for 19 peer-review scientific oncologic and urologic journals.

The Schiffler Cancer Center of Wheeling Hospital is the region’s only Accredited Comprehensive Community Cancer Program, as designated by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer. It treats far more patients, conducts research and provides clinical trials – the only cancer center doing all three in the region. CareChex, a highly-respected national independent health care rating services, recently ranked the Schiffler Cancer Center among the top 10 percent in the U.S. for medical excellence.

In addition to its primary location at Wheeling Hospital, the Schiffler Cancer Center also has patient facilities at Harrison Community Hospital in Cadiz and at Belmont Community Hospital in Bellaire.

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Contact: Gregg Warren, Vice President - Marketing/Public Relations, 304-243-3260

Dr. Gregory Merrick