SIU Department of  Surgery  
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Department News

Hilary A. Sanfey, MB Recieves Prestigious Award
Hilary Sanfey, MB, Professor of Surgery and Vice Chair of Educational Affairs is the recipient of the 2014 Nina Starr Braunwald Award for Outstanding Contributions to Women in Surgery.



SIU Med School, St. John’s Hospital Use MRI for Accurate, Painless Prostate Cancer Detection

Men undergoing an evaluation for possible prostate cancer now have access to an advanced technique to manage the disease: Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of the prostate. The MRI program is a new partnership of a urological oncologist from Simmons Cancer Institute School of Medicine and radiologists from St. John’s Hospital.

MRI of the prostate is developing as a powerful tool to better detect cancer within the prostate. It also allows for safe, conservative management of prostate cancer in cases of low volume, low risk cancer tumors. Undergoing a painless MRI creates a more accurate diagnosis while being less invasive than the traditional ultrasound-guided biopsy of the prostate.

“There is increasing evidence that using the MRI before a biopsy can accurately identify patients who require immediate biopsies and those who could be deferred,” said Dr. Shaheen Alanee, head of Urologic Oncology and assistant professor of surgery at SIU. Alanee recently trained at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. “The partnership with St. John’s radiology brings more accurate monitoring to the Springfield area. Our findings are already detecting cancer in areas a biopsy did not.”

Alanee and St. John’s radiologist Dr. Vincent Zata have taken special training in France to read these prostate MRIs. They have been amazed at how much more accurate the findings are than the traditional biopsy. Based on MRI findings, prostate biopsies may still be needed. St. John’s may purchase equipment to computerize the biopsy process.

“The potential of MRI in prostate cancer detection and management seems unlimited,” Zata said. “As the technology develops, more uses for MRI are being identified. It’s not too far in the future that we may be able to substitute prostate biopsy with a combination of blood tests and MRI imaging, thus saving our patients the discomfort of an invasive procedure.”

A free information event about active surveillance for prostate cancer will be held from 5:30-6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 15, at the Dove Conference Center, Prairie Heart Institute at St. John’s Hospital, 619 E. Mason St. in Springfield.

Faculty and Student Receive Humanism, Teaching Awards

Several honors have been announced this spring at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield.

A faculty member and graduating senior were named recipients of the 2013 Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award presented during commencement ceremonies May 18. Dr. John Mellinger, professor of surgery, and Dr. Brittany Obert, a 2013 graduate of SIU School of Medicine from Springfield, were recognized as individuals who demonstrate compassion, respect for patients and families, and clinical excellence. The award is sponsored by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation.

A student who nominated Mellinger for the award said, “He is an excellent role model of the kind of physician I want to be. He is genuinely a good man who shows true concern for everyone whom he comes into contact with. He is wonderful to talk to because you know that he is truly listening to you and will give you excellent feedback. . . . His outstanding communication skills are especially evident when observing him with patients. He is extremely respectful in all aspects of patient care and truly wants to work with patients to decide what would be the best process for them.”

Mellinger is chair of the Division of General Surgery and the J. Roland Folse, M.D.,Endowed Chair for surgery. He served a fellowship in surgical endoscopy at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in Cleveland (1990) and completed his general surgery residency at Blodgett Memorial Medical Center/St. Mary’s Hospital/MSU in Grand Rapids, Mich. (1989). Mellinger earned his medical degree and his bachelor’s summa cum laude from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio (1984, 1980). He served four years in the U.S. Air Force. He is board certified in general surgery by the American Board of Surgery. He has co-authored more than 65 research publications and book chapters.