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Regional Cancer Center Provides Expert, Compassionate Care

Monongahela Valley Hospital's Charles L. and Rose Sweeny Melenyzer Pavilion and Regional Cancer Center sponsors many annual education and screening events.

Annual Breast Cancer Education and Screening Luncheon. The 2015 event will be held Wednesday, Oct. 28 at 1 p.m. The program includes presentations by Kathy Cameron, who will provide a survivor's perspective; A Breast Cancer Overview by Natalie Furgiuele, M.D., F.A.C.S., a discussion of Advanced Therapies by Shani Gunning-Carter, M.D.; and a presentation on Advances on Breast Reconstruction by Lori L. Cherup, M.D., F.A.C.S. Reservations are required. Call 724-258-1333.

Lung Cancer Screening and Education program. For the first time, MVH is offering a lung cancer program scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 10, at 6 p.m. Dr. Zahalsky, Pulmonologist Surinder K. Aneja, M.D., and Radiologist Adil Chaudry, M.D., will discuss all aspects of lung cancer including the screening process, interventions and therapies. Reservations are required. Call 724-258-1333.

Mamm and Glamm. One of MVH's most popular screening events that includes a stress-free mammogram combined with a day of free pampering. The event will be held Sat. April 16, 2016 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at HealthPLEX Imaging at the Mon-Vale HealthPLEX. Appointments are required. Call 724-379-1911.

Each spring, the Hospital offers a free Skin Cancer Screening. Members of the community can meet with a dermatologist to have suspicious moles or skin marks examined free of charge. For the 2016 date, in the winter visit

A Colorectal Cancer Education & Screening is held annually. A distinguished panel of physicians and medical professionals discuss the importance of early detection and regular exams. Each participant receives a free take-home colorectal screening kit.

Prostate Education and Screening Program. Each September, MVH sponsors a free program that emphasizes the importance of early detection and provides free exams for participants as well as blood tests for the prostate specific antigen (PSA).
(October 2, 2015 - Carroll Township, Pa.)

Each October, no matter where you look, there is a sea of pink. Bakeries make pink sugar cookies. Schools encourage students to wear pink attire for "pinkouts." Some buildings change their exterior lighting to have pink hues. It's all to call attention to National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. At Monongahela Valley Hospital (MVH), the staff does not need a calendar to help raise cancer awareness - it's a fact of life 365 days a year.

At MVH's Charles L. and Rose Sweeney Melenyzer Pavilion and Regional Cancer Center, miracles happen every day. People who receive cancer care at the Hospital's Cancer Center are in the hands of some of the world's most respected oncologists who are supported by highly-trained radiation therapists and nurses. The skilled medical team provides comprehensive and compassionate care during all phases of cancer.

"I was referred to Dr. [Natalie] Furgiuele by Dr. [Andrew] Spergel and I chose Monongahela Valley Hospital since I live in New Eagle and it was close by my house," said Kathy Cameron, a breast cancer survivor who received care at MVH. "I love each and every one of the staff members. From day one, they treated me as family and truly cared. They know patients by their first names. I have even seen Dr. [Mohsen] Isaac, at Giant Eagle and he has stopped and talked with me."

As the home to the second largest free-standing cancer center in Western Pennsylvania, Monongahela Valley Hospital is on the cutting-edge of advanced cancer therapies. The Cancer Center provides advanced chemotherapy and radiation treatments and innovative therapies for symptom management.

"Our outpatient medical oncology team includes four medical oncologists, two nurse practitioners, nine nurses and ancillary support staff. We have close relationships with both the surgical and the radiation staff, and offer a team-based, interdisciplinary approach to treatment planning, so that the care of each cancer patient is tailored to the individual," explained Andrew J. Zahalsky, M.D., MVH's director of Medical Oncology. And as an independent practice, we have the opportunity to maintain our focus on the needs of our patients."

While some people who have been diagnosed with cancer will travel hundreds of miles from their homes for the latest treatments, people in western Pennsylvania have access to one of the most advanced therapies at Monongahela Valley Hospital's Regional Cancer Center. MVH is the first and only hospital in western Pennsylvania that offers image-guided radiation therapy treatments using the new Elekta Agility that includes a multi-leaf collimator (MLC) device. Use of the MLC device enables medical professionals at MVH to administer higher doses of radiation at multiple sites simultaneously. It delivers radiation to the unique contours of the tumor while reducing the risk of exposure to healthy tissue.

"We have been using the Elekta Agility unit with success for two years," said Mohsen Isaac, M.D., MVH's director, Radiation Oncology and clinical assistant professor at Temple University School of Medicine. "The unit provides leaf speeds that are twice as fast as conventional beam shaping devices, enabling our radiation team to offer patients a level of conformance to tumor targets for rapid, accurate treatments that are not available at other cancer centers."

In addition to the Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT), MVH offers:

  • High-Dose Rate Radiation Therapy (HDR) - a form of brachytherapy or internal radiation therapy which involves the placement of a high-energy radiation source inside the body near the tumor for brief periods of time
  • Volumetric Arc Therapy (VMAT) - a therapy that uses single or multiple radiation beams to sweep in uninterrupted arcs around the patient to speed treatment delivery and reduce treatment times
  • 4-D Imaging - one of the latest advances in cancer therapy, this process using 4-D CT to capture the image of the tumor, its movement and the movement of the body's organs to accurately treat tumors located on or near organs that move
  • Stereotactic Brain Radiosurgery - used in the treatment of brain and spinal tumors as well as brain metastases
  • Stereotactic Body Radiosurgery - used for small isolated tumors that lie outside the brain such as inoperable early lung tumors with excellent results

A Navigator for Care Management
In early 2015, MVH's Regional Cancer Center expanded its care program to include a nurse navigator. Lisa Eicher is a registered nurse who is oncology certified. In her role, Mrs. Eicher assists patients on their journey from diagnosis through survivorship. She helps patients understand the process and provides education, guidance and emotional support.

Prevention, Education, Survivorship, Support
Cancer care doesn't start or end with treatment. MVH is committed to the health of the residents of the mid-Monongahela Valley every day by offering educational programs, screenings and support groups. Throughout the year, the Regional Cancer Center offers many free annual events that are designed to limit the impact of cancer on the community through prevention, education and early detection.

Support help some people cope better with their diagnoses and increase their knowledge of cancer and its treatment. The groups also help enhance a person's self-esteem, reduce depression and decrease anxiety Monongahela Valley Hospital offers support groups that are free and open to people with cancer and their friends and families. Groups include a general cancer support group as well as individual groups that focus on breast and prostate cancer.

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